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Financial reform and transition in China: a study of the evolution of banks in rural China

  • Minggao Shen
  • Jikun Huang
  • Linxiu Zhang
  • Scott Rozelle

Purpose – This paper seeks to understand the evolution of financial intermediation in the course of China's economic transition. Design/methodology/approach – The research is based on a unique data set collected by the authors and other collaborators from a 1998 survey of financial institutions, enterprises, and government officials in southern China. Findings – Based on an empirical investigation of rural financial reforms, it is argued that China's two-decade long financial reform was a gradual process that accommodates reforms in other sectors and responds to changing policy goals and the economic and institutional environment in which financial institutions operate. Although using standard measures of financial system performance may cast doubt on the effectiveness of China's rural banking system, when one understands the different roles that it has been asked to play, it can be argued that it has not operated so poorly. Research limitations/implications – In conclusion, it is found that China's rural economic environment is still changing. If the system continues to change in the future, responding to pressures in the economy, further financial reforms will almost certainly emerge in the coming years. Practical implications – These findings, although primarily from the 1980s and 1990s, are still helpful in understanding the reform process that is currently ongoing. Social implications – This paper will help readers make sense of agricultural financial reforms and will allow for more discourse over what has been accomplished and what still is needed. Originality/value – This is the first manuscript to comprehensively put China's rural financial reforms into the context of modern economic analysis, explaining why China's government proceeded as they did and why the reforms have unfolded in such a stop and start manner.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Agricultural Finance Review.

Volume (Year): 70 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (November)
Pages: 305-332

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Handle: RePEc:eme:afrpps:v:70:y:2010:i:3:p:305-332
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