The China Development Model: Between the State and the Market
As environmental, social, and corporate governance ESG takes hold in the West, the Chinese and Western models may begin to converge, with the key difference that, in China, the CPC and the state represent the non-owner stakeholders, or the public interest. The details of the model will probably be determined by pragmatic considerations and course corrections.
But China can take steps to assuage its critics, especially by committing to respect intellectual property, remove non-tariff barriers to cross-border trade and especially investment, and eliminate joint-venture requirements for private cross-border investments, so that technology transfer is not coerced.
The bigger challenges concern the role of the state at the nexus of technology and national security. Private Chinese firms investing abroad must credibly signal that their focus is purely commercial, and that they are not pursuing other agendas, like national security.
Market development, state intervention, and the dynamics of new housing investment in China
No government can be expected to renounce the use of cyber tools in espionage, but governments can avoid implicating the private sector. Chinese SOEs can receive difficult-to-detect subsidies, privileged access to low-cost capital, and protection from competition at home.
More fundamentally, when the government is the controlling shareholder, the challenge of credibly separating commercial interests from state objectives seems insurmountable. Obstacles to cross-border investment in the Internet are also high and likely to persist. Convergence with the evolving Western model is unlikely in the short run. But the market-oriented development path will certainly help reduce these tensions. Introducing much greater clarity about the division of responsibilities between the state and the market would remove a major obstacle to further progress.
This article first appeared in Project Syndicate on January 21, Search Search. Asian Perspectives Global Issues.
Trump Won Trade War 1. This experience has allowed me to closely observe and be intimately involved in the tremendous changes China has undergone in the past 40 years. The u nique path of Chinese characteristics. This path is, by nature, socialist, and distinctive for its indigenous traits. Its socialist nature means it is a path to common prosperity. Although the government encourages some citizens to get rich first, its goal has always been to create a life of affluence for everyone. This is why the Chinese government has put poverty alleviation high on its agenda and rolled out a number of policies and measures in this regard.
These efforts have paid off: million Chinese people come out of absolute poverty in the past 40 years, and the remaining 30 million are expected to follow by First of all, its political system, including its electoral system, is different from that of Western countries. Second, the government plays a bigger role in all sectors of the country, including boosting economic and social development.
Third, the influence of historical, cultural, and traditional factors is prominent. For example, certain cardinal Confucian ideas still influence the relationship between the rule of law and rule of virtue, the relationship between order and rules, and the relationship between social networks and development. State institutions and moral norms are both at play in Chinese society.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the choice China makes in light of its own conditions. After decades of practice and improvements, it has developed unique advantages in coordinating the roles of government and market. The socialist system and institutions prove especially effective in pooling labour, material, and financial resources for massive projects in national and regional development.
There is, however, more to be done to coordinate the roles of government and market. It is known worldwide that China would not be where it is today without the reforms first initiated by Deng Xiaoping. A key reason why they have been so fruitful is because these reforms have been unwaveringly market-oriented.
It later came to the understanding that solutions to these problems required the introduction of market-based systems and institutions. China, therefore, initiated reforms to develop the commodity economy by stimulating production and the exchange of goods.
These reforms then evolved to establish a robust market economy. But in the course of these shifts, China did not abolish the systems and institutions of the planned economy entirely and instead allowed the old and new systems and institutions to coexist and complement each other.
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In this way, government planning and the market were able to reach a relative equilibrium in a dynamic process, in which reforms proceeded without disrupting social stability. Today, no one in China disputes the market-oriented direction of the reforms. The first was during the s and s, when the goal was to solicit foreign investment in domestic infrastructure and industrial projects. Due to their geographical location and historical and cultural heritage, coastal areas like Guangdong, Fujian, and Shanghai experienced the fastest growth during this period.
Guangdong, for example, has long sustained affinity with neighbouring Hong Kong through close interpersonal bonds. After the initial opening-up, numerous Hong Kong businesspeople opened factories in Guangdong. With industrial zones mushrooming across the province, a large number of hamlets were transformed into global manufacturing bases. During this period, it accomplished two goals — bringing its foreign trade and investment into compliance with international rules, primarily those of developed Western countries, and inserting itself within international value chains.
The first goal enabled China to be better accepted by the world at large, and the second made it an indispensable part of global industries and value chains. Increasing integration with the world economy in this decade turned out to boost rather than impair the international competitiveness of Chinese manufacturing. Through the Belt and Road Initiative China hopes to bring into play its advantages in technologies and human resources in specific professions to advance the interconnectivity of facilities, trade, investment, finance, and people-to-people exchange.
This initiative is expected to boost mutual support and synchronised development among participating countries, and hence safeguard world peace through open, innovative, and inclusive global development. By increasing dialogue between civilisations, it aims to build a community with a shared future for humanity and create a better future for everyone.
At the end of , China put forward a package of new ideas on national development. The most consequential innovation was to shift the priority of the nation and the CPC from class struggle to economic development, which has since become the central task of CPC organisations and governments at all levels. But in the s, s, and early s, the country was short of money to build up this capital-intensive sector, which requires buying equipment and land, building factories, and hiring workers.
It therefore looked to foreign investors who were seeking opportunities in the Chinese market. Recognising the multiple benefits of foreign investment, including tax contributions, job creation, rises in local incomes and, consequently, spending, local governments raced to solicit foreign capital. To outmanoeuvre their peers, some regions offered additionally favourable policies like tax cuts or breaks, discounted land prices, or even free land.
Some even went to the extent of lowering or scrapping environmental protection requirements. While going after foreign investors, regional governments also jostled to woo domestic banks for loans to local enterprises. Meanwhile, they set up their own financing platforms to raise funds for local manufacturing and infrastructure to stimulate economic growth. These efforts paid off.
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New infrastructure was completed, and manufacturing surged in both rural and urban areas. But the side effects soon emerged.
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The supply of low-priced or even free land to foreign investors led to a spike in land development for industrial projects and a steep reduction in the amount of farmland; bribery was involved in many deals between local officials, foreign investors, and banks. Recognising these problems, China began to correct its neglect of other sectors amid the frenzied pursuit of economic growth.