The route to China’s success has been as tortuously uneven as it has been rapid. China’s history since 1900 – the fi rst 50 years of which are summarized in Part Two, below – has been punctuated by natural and man-made disasters, arrogant leadership, disastrous policy decisions and incomprehensible disregard for the welfare of millions. The early years under Communist leadership brought important changes, but only after 1978 did the ruling Communist Party fi nd more workable solutions to the challenges that have plagued the government and people for the past 200 years.