Over the past 70 years, China has explored an unprecedented path of building and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics. The current basic consensus is that the " China road” has achieved great success because it has chosen a path of the gradual market economic system reform based on adhering to the basic socialist system. A longitudinal survey of the extension and development of the socialist road with Chinese characteristics reveals that 1978 to 1992 is a special transitional period. This paper names this period as the " Conscious Exploration Stage of the Reform of Socialist Market Economy System with Chinese characteristics”. In order to clarify the necessity of building a socialist market economy system with Chinese characteristics, we analyze the change and theoretical logic of the institutional reform thoughts, the implementation process of different kinds of policies, as well as the performance and shortcomings of the economy at this stage.
In terms of the ideological track, the market-oriented orientation of the reform goal has been continuously strengthened, and it has undergone the transformation from " perfecting the planned economy system” to " developing the planned commodity economy” and then to " establishing the socialist market economy system”. It has formed a systematic reform guiding theory including " reform starting point-theoretical basis and practical path of reform-stage goal of reform”. In terms of policy practice, it mainly focuses on how to improve commodity monetary relations on the basis of the planned economy system and gradually exert the regulating role of the market. It mainly includes four aspects: First, the rural economic reform introduces commodity and market relations into agriculture. Second, the SOE reform gradually expands the autonomy of SOEs by delegating power and transferring profits, and initially explores how to properly handle the relationship of interests between enterprises and the government, and how to effectively separate the right to operate from the right to own. Third, we allow and encourage the development of the non-public sector of the economy. At the same time, it carries out the reform of the circulation field centering on the price reform. In terms of economic performance, under the guidance of the theoretical achievements of the socialist economic reform, which is constantly innovated and adjusted in exploration, China’s economic system has been reformed in an all-round way, and the relations of production have been greatly adjusted, thus liberating and developing the productive forces, and continuously improving China’s comprehensive economic strength and optimizing various economic structures.