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China's manufacturing sector -- virtually nonexistent four decades ago -- has helped transform the country into the world's second-biggest economy. (Original photos by AP, Getty Images)
The Big Story

Chinese state tightens grip 40 years after Deng's reforms

Companies face headwinds amid trade war, cooling growth

KENJI KAWASE, Nikkei Asian Review chief business news correspondent, and NIKKI SUN, Nikkei staff writer | China

HONG KONG/BEIJING/TOKYO -- During his history-making trip to Japan in October 1978, Deng Xiaoping marveled at the state-of-the art Nippon Steel factory on the outskirts of Tokyo. The plant was a gleaming symbol of Japan's postwar rise, and Deng knew that China needed one like it.

"Would you be able to build something similar to this for us?" Deng, then China's vice-premier, asked his hosts.

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