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Recent claims of China's economic exceptionalism: Reflections inspired by WTO accession

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  • Woo, Wing Thye

Abstract

The desirability of WTO membership for China depends on whether its economic successes have been the result of its discovery of new institutional forms (e.g. dual track pricing, SOE contracts, and fiscal contracts) that are optimal for China''s particular economic circumstances, or have been the result of the convergence of its economic institutions to those of a typical advanced member of WTO. If the experimentalist interpretation of China''s phenomenal growth is correct, then WTO membership is a negative development because it could be a straitjacket for WTO-enforced institutional harmonisation that would constrain China''s scope for experimentation. But if the experimentalist interpretation is wrong, then WTO membership is a positive development that will lock China on to the path of deepening economic reform. We assess several recent claims of China''s economic exceptionalism, and conclude that they neglected the considerable costs associated with the use of these innovative mechanisms (which have led to the repeal of every one of these ""optimal"" mechanisms) and that these mechanisms were unlikely to have produced positive results in the transition economies in Europe. Because a major reason for the failure of Gorbachev''s reforms was opposition from the entrenched interests within the ruling structure, China''s forthcoming WTO accession could be seen as an attempt by reformers to lock economic policies on to a market-oriented course that is costly to reverse.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal China Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 12 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2-3 ()
Pages: 107-136

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Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:12:y:2001:i:2-3:p:107-136

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/chieco

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References

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  1. Woo Wing Thye & Hai Wen & Jin Yibiao & Fan Gang, 1994. "How Successful Has Chinese Enterprise Reform Been? Pitfalls in Opposite Biases and Focus," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 410-437, June.
  2. Jefferson, Gary H & Rawski, Thomas G & Yuxin, Zheng, 1992. "Growth, Efficiency, and Convergence in China's State and Collective Industry," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(2), pages 239-66, January.
  3. Jefferson, Gary H. & Rawski, Thomas G. & Zheng, Yuxin, 1994. "Productivity change in chinese industry: A comment," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 235-241.
  4. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Wing Thye Woo, 1997. "Understanding China's Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 5935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sachs, J.D. & Woo, W.T., 1994. "Structural Factors in the Economic Reforms of China, Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union," Papers 94-01, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  6. Woo Wing Thye, 1994. "The Art of Reforming Centrally Planned Economies: Comparing China, Poland, and Russia," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 276-308, June.
  7. Groves, Theodore, et al, 1994. "Autonomy and Incentives in Chinese State Enterprises," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 183-209, February.
  8. Kornai, Janos, 1992. "The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287766.
  9. Wing Thye Woo, . "Chinese Economic Growth: Sources And Prospects," Department of Economics 96-08, California Davis - Department of Economics.
  10. Jefferson, Gary H. & Rawski, Thomas G. & Zheng, Yuxin, 1996. "Chinese Industrial Productivity: Trends, Measurement Issues, and Recent Developments," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 146-180, October.
  11. Woo, Wing Thye & Fan, Gang & Hai, Wen & Jin, Yibiao, 1993. "The efficiency and macroeconomic consequences of Chinese enterprise reform," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 153-168.
  12. Nolan, Peter & Xiaoqiang, Wang, 1999. "Beyond privatization: Institutional innovation and growth in China's large state-owned enterprises," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 169-200, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Wing Thye Woo, 2003. "The Travails of Current Macroeconomic and Exchange Rate Management in China: The Complications of Switching to a New Growth Engine," Development and Comp Systems 0310001, EconWPA.
  2. Yu, Miaojie, 2009. "Revaluation of the Chinese Yuan and triad trade: A gravity assessment," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 655-668, November.
  3. Wing Thye Woo, 2007. "The Challenges of Governance Structure, Trade Disputes and Natural Environment to China's Growth," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0349, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
  4. Peter Drysdale & Xinpeng Xu, 2004. "Taiwan's Role in the Economic Architecture of East Asia and the Pacific," Asia Pacific Economic Papers 343, Australia-Japan Research Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  5. Wing Thye Woo, 2006. "The Structural Nature of Internal and External Imbalances in China," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 1-19.
  6. Yeung, Godfrey & Mok, Vincent, 2005. "What are the impacts of implementing ISOs on the competitiveness of manufacturing industry in China?," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 139-157, May.
  7. Jeffrey Sachs & Wing Thye Woo, 2003. "China's Economic Growth After WTO Membership," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 1-31.
  8. Wing Thye Woo and Shuming Bao, 2003. "China: Case study on Human Development Progress towards the Millennium Developmental Goals at the Sub-National Level," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2003-14, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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