THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is taking an active and extensive role in the economic reform that is sweeping through China. With the personal blessing of veteran leader Deng Xiaoping, the agency opened an office in Beijing in 1979, becoming the first among the multilateral organisations within the United Nations to engage in technical assistance to the country. In recent years, its focus in China has shifted from technical assistance to helping China move smoothly from a command economy to a socialist market economy. Among others, it is now involved in the transformation of China's large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises. - the backbone of the national economy.