A little over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976.

The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, China went from a backward basket case to the second-largest economy on the planet. It lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese into the global middle class.

Deng’s revolution came at a cost of terrible environmental damage, the rampant destruction of local communities and continued political repression. A more efficient economy empowered dictatorship.

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