Specialized markets and Chinese industrial clusters: The experience of Zhejiang Province
Local specialized markets and industrial clusters have been a driving force in China's transition from a rural to a market economy, as they have constituted a means for small local producers to access markets since the reform and the launching of the “open door” policies. In this article the industrial development of local industrial clusters endowed with specialized markets is outlined on the basis of fieldwork case studies in Zhejiang Province. In this area of China, tight linkages between the development of industrial clusters and specialized markets are based on social and economic foundations that have propelled the growth of market relations since the late 1970s. Together with local traditions and skills in both handcraft production and commerce, specialized markets accompanied the take-off of industrial clusters following the so-called “Zhejiang model” of development. The role of specialized markets is still crucial nowadays as a powerful channel for the distribution of consumer goods as well as a means of coordination of fragmented productions in China and abroad.
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