The People's Republic of China at Sixty

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 October, 2009, 12:00am

Sixty years ago, Mao Zedong famously declared 'The Chinese people have stood up'.

And indeed they have. Yet few could have predicted in 1949 - probably not even Mao himself - the amazing journey the People's Republic was about to embark on. China was a poor, rural country back then; the average person could expect to live only until his mid-thirties. Today, China is a global power, its economic growth record the envy of the world, and home to cutting-edge industries. Its cities are dotted with skyscrapers; life expectancy has more than doubled.

It hasn't been a smooth ride, or an unblemished one. The nation endured famine in the Great Leap Forward and was convulsed by the Cultural Revolution before it opened up to the outside world and began an economic expansion unmatched in human history. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, but the people have also paid a price in environmental degradation and lax product safety.

The South China Morning Post has chronicled the story of China for more than a century now, serving as one of the English-speaking world's main windows on the country. Sixty years ago it marked the proclamation of the new republic with a front-page story that described scenes of 'jubilation everywhere' and 'salvoes from cannon'.

We've continued to follow developments in the People's Republic regularly since then; and in this magazine, we focus on the challenges ahead for key mainland cities, and on the rise of the corporate and industrial sector. We also present key figures charting the growth of the nation and talk to people who witnessed the birth of the new republic and all the changes since.

Today marks a historic chapter in the China story, one the Post has been privileged to chronicle. We expect the next 60 years to be just as interesting, and plan to keep you abreast of the many changes and developments in the years to come.