More than three decades ago, Deng Xiaoping, who later became known as the chief architect of China's reforms, decided to focus on economic development through pragmatic experimentation, with the country moving forward cautiously by "crossing the river by feeling the stones."

China was at the time one of the world's poorest countries. Thirty-five years later, the country is the world's biggest trading nation, holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves and the second largest economy.

The Communist Party is making clear that it is not about to abandon a winning formula. The third plenum of its central committee, in announcing new reform measures, repeats Deng's famous phrase.