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While China's economic growth has been impressive since 1978, regional disparity in terms of provincial per capita GDP has been increasing. On the other hand, this rapid but uneven growth was accompanied by China's deepening openness and structural reforms including the development of non-state-owned enterprises (non-SOEs) and fiscal decentralization. Based on quantitative analyses, this paper tries to explore the features of regional disparity in China and the relationships between regional growth and China's openness and economic structure reforms in the period from 1981 to 2000. The paper finds that the catching-up of the coastal region to the initially rich provinces, which are mainly located in inland areas, brought about a convergence of the growth pattern across provinces in the 1980s. The subsequent divergence in the provincial growth rates between the coast and the interior generated an enlarging regional disparity in China in the 1990s. The ever-faster growth in the coastal region was benefited by China's openness and the development of non-state-owned enterprises. The development of non-state-owned enterprises underlies the higher operational efficiency in the coastal region. Additionally, with the insignificant regression results, fiscal decentralization was observed to facilitate faster growth in the coast region. The findings justify the initiative of the "West Region Development Strategy" and offer some policy implications for China.
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