Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first major reform plans a decade ago were also his boldest, envisaging a transition to a Western-style free market economy driven by services and consumption by 2020.

The 60-point agenda was meant to fix an obsolete growth model better suited to less developed countries – however, most of those reforms have gone nowhere leaving the economy largely reliant on older policies that have only added to China’s massive debt pile and industrial overcapacity.

The failure to restructure the world’s second-largest economy has raised critical questions about what comes next for China.

While many analysts see a slow drift towards Japan-style stagnation as the most likely outcome, there is also the prospect of a more severe crunch.

“Things always fail slowly until they suddenly break,” said William Hurst, Chong Hua Professor of Chinese Development at University of Cambridge.