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I would say that the key initiatives that Deng Xiaoping undertook was a keen understanding of modifying traditional state controlled economies into liberalized forms, while retaining central focus. This "socialist market economy" was critical to opening up China in the late 1970s and placing it on the path that has propelled the nation to where it is today. Deng understood that Mao's emphasis on class struggle was an ideology that was not competitive with the current economic conditions of the time. In recognizing this, Deng enabled China to become more receptive to reforming its economic system to becoming a state controlled capitalist enterprise. The capitalist element that would enable it to compete on the world stage and generate more growth to offset the mistakes of "The Great Leap Forward" while ensuring that the government retained control would be considered Deng's key initiative. This took on smaller forms, such as opening China up in the region to a type of competitiveness that had not been seen in the Maoist days. This international presence was bolstered by opening China up to foreign investment, while retaining central control and focus. Coupling this increased international presence on an economic scale, Deng matched this with domestic modernizations, initiatives that recognized internal economic reforms could be the engine to drive China to the top of the world economic stage. Ideas like "the Four Modernizations" sought to make China more receptive to the economic changes it was undergoing, combining it with a domestic population that would be able to understand and appreciate such changes. All of these reforms did not change any political stance in the Chinese government, still refusing to democratize the nation. Yet Deng Xiaoping's key initiatives would be his domestic and foreign policy initiatives that moved China into the position where it finds itself today.
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