Privatisation or Competition? A Lesson Learnt from the Chinese Enterprise Reform
Market competition is essential for any economy to be efficient. In order to develop competition in a transition economy, it is conventionally thought that privatisation should take place first. This wisdom has been challenged by the Chinese reform experience of the last two decades, which modified the incentive structure of state enterprises and created markets and market competition in the absence of large scale privatisation. China's experience, however, raises the question of whether its chosen type of reform is sufficient to promote competition in a market dominated by public firms. To answer this, we need to know what kind of markets were created--regional markets closed to trade or unified markets with easy access--and whether or not improved incentives for state firms have led to competition. This paper investigates these questions on the basis of a survey of both theory and empirical evidence; and finds that the Chinese reform policies did succeed in stimulating competition among state firms. Copyright 2001 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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