China seems at first examination to be a country in which com pletely rational, region-by-region planning could be undertaken, with the entire economy managed like a well-oiled, finely-tuned machine. At least that is the image conjured up by the term "planned economy," and it is one that strikes a responsive chord deep in the orderly recesses of the planner's heart. This was the notion I had of China when the idea for the China Symposium first came up before the BPJ Editorial Board. I was at once fascinated by the possibilities of plan ning in China, and daunted by the scope of power and responsibility inherent in so comprehensive a task. Much as I could appreciate the potential benefits of controlling plant siting, labor force migration, and the like, I was not at all sure I would want to live in such a society. I also realized how little I, in common with most of the Western world, knew about what life in China is actually like. Even travelling there, as more and more Westerners are now doing, does not seem sufficient to grasp the social, political, or day-to-day reality.