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Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State

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Author Yasheng Huang
ISBN 9780521898102
Pages 366
Condition Very Good
Format Hardback

Since 1978, the Chinese economy has grown phenomenally. This is not in dispute. By exactly what mechanism has China managed to grow so fast? There is more room for debate on this question. A widespread view is that private entrepreneurship, financial liberation, and political reforms played a minor role in explaining China's economic takeoff. Based on archival research and survey data, this book offers an alternative view: Private entrepreneurship, facilitated by access to capital and microeconomic flexibility, was at the center of China's takeoff in the 1980s. The political system, then as now, was authoritarian, but it was moving in a liberal direction. China lacked well-specified property rights, but it substantially improved security of proprietors. But given this initial success, how then to explain the substantial distortions in Chinese economy today? The key to getting the China story right is to recognize the existence of two Chinas - an entrepreneurial rural China and a state-controlled urban China. In the 1980s, rural China gained the upper hand, and the result was rapid as well as broad-based growth. In the 1990s, urban China triumphed when the Chinese state reversed many of the productive rural experiments of the previous decade. While this reversal does not show up in the GDP numbers, it shows up in the welfare implications of growth. Since the early 1990s, household income has lagged behind economic growth and the labor share of GDP has fallen. Social performance has deteriorated. The directional liberalism of China in the 1980s and the emerging India miracle today debunk the widespread notion that democracy is automatically anti-growth. As the country marks its 30th anniversary of reforms in 2008, China faces some of its toughest economic challenges and vulnerabilities. The long overdue political reforms are required to improve governance and accountability and to put China on a sustainable path of development. Professor Yasheng Huang teaches political economy international management at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He previously held faculty positions at the University of Michigan and at the Harvard Business School and as a consultant at the World Bank. He has published Inflation and Investment Controls in China (1996), FDI in China (1998), and Selling China (2003; Chinese version in 2005). His work on FDI in China has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Bloomberg, Businessworld, Le Monde, Economic and Political Weekly, and Economic Times, as well as in Chinese publications such as Nanfang Zhoumo, Nanfang Dushibao, Economic Observer, Global Entrepreneur, China Entrepreneur, Fortune Weekly, 21st Century Business Herald, Liangwang, and Xinhuanet. In addition to academic journal articles, he has written for Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and New York Times. In collaboration with other scholars, Professor Huang is conducting research on education and human capital in China and India, and non-performing loans, privatization, and entrepreneurship in China. At MIT, Professor Huang runs a "China Lab" and an "India Lab" that help entrepreneurial businesses in China and in India improve their management. "Yasheng Huang is an insightful scholar of China's political economy. In this important book, he shows how China's rural economy took off in the 1980s, led by 'township and village enterprises' that were essentially private, only to be ignored in the 1990s by state-led development that focused on urban regions such as Shanghai. The 'Shanghai miracle,' he argues - and as any businessman who has worked there knows - was not the simple triumph of capitalism but of a stronger and more intrusive (and effective) state. If one wants to understand the policy origins of China's growing divide between rich and poor, urban and rural, one need look no further than this book." - William Kirby, Harvard University "Sure to generate a lively debate, Professor Huang's study provides a provocative and well-researched challenge to much current thinking on China's economic development. The widely shared gains of the 1980s have not been matched in more recent years. Danger signs include the stagnation in household incomes, growing inequality and illiteracy, and heightened governance problems. Huang argues that China will not be able to continue to grow unless the benefits of growth are widely shared through fundamental political and legal reforms." - Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale Law School
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