China has made "phenomenal" achievements over the past 40 years, said Takehiko Nakao, president of the Asia Development Bank on Sunday.
Rapid economic growth has driven its per capita income from one of the poorest in the world to the level of an upper-middle income country, Nakao said at the China Development Forum 2018 which opened Sunday.
Poverty levels in China have fallen significantly. While 250 million people in rural areas lived below the national poverty line in 1978, the figure fell to 30 million at the end of 2017, he said.
China has transformed from an economy with basic agriculture and technology to a global manufacturing powerhouse, and it is now transitioning to an economy driven more by consumption and services, he said.
"China has become a front-runner in areas such as e-commerce and shared economies. New technology and entrepreneurs are fostering the emergence of innovative industrial clusters," Nakao said.
As to the reasons behind China's success, he pointed to "social drivers" as the key.
"Reforms that started in 1978 unleashed people's aspirations to grow, to invent, and to live better lives," he said.
He also noted China's "unwavering" determination to adopt market systems and open trade and investment regimes.
On challenges for the world's second-largest economy, Nakao said China must ensure the entire population can enjoy the results of growth more equally, although the country has already lifted millions out of poverty and people enjoy better lives overall.
Nakao noted that tackling climate change, promoting a better environment and an aging population are among other major challenges facing China.