During the first few months of 1993 the considerable speculation in the Chinese press on the number of millionaires to be found in China drew attention not only to the extent of economic change but also to the emergence of new economic élites. The rapid growth of China’s economy during the 1980s — and an average rate in excess of approximately 9 per cent per annum — has created new categories of those who either control or own substantial wealth and thereby have the ability significantly to affect the lives of others. Given the pace of economic modernisation the emergence of new economic élites is probably only to be expected, and has significant potential consequences, particularly for China’s social and political system.
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