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This paper was originally presented at the 1990 International Year of Literacy Colloquium in Washington, D.C. The paper contains information to answer three important questions: 1) What is the role assigned to adult literacy and adult education in the socialist modernization of China within the nation's overall development policy? 2) What is the effectiveness of the adult education and adult literacy system in its performance and in implementing stated policy? 3) What lessons can literacy workers and adult educators elsewhere in the world learn from the Chinese experience? In proposing answers, material from personal visits, as well as published material is used.