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Guest Editor's Introduction


  • Lawrence R. Sullivan


"The driving force in society" is how Rachel Yang characterizes the role of the private economy in China. A country that for decades was proclaimed by its domestic and foreign promoters as a Socialist "utopia" and Communist "heaven" with an economy that magically avoided inflation and created full employment with equality for all is now being transformed, not by the "almighty state" with its awesome bureaucratic power and tenacious network of industrial combines but by individual and family entrepreneursâthe "little guy" who for years was all but ignored in the march to national greatness and historical pomposity. China will never be the same, but Yang realizes in this, the second installment of >i>Chinese Renaissance: The Reemergence of a Private Economy in China>/i>, that, although "challenged," the "old system" of a centrally planned economy in which anything and everything "public" was considered superior to the "private" sector is far from dead. China is still led by a cabal of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders who, despite their agonizing recognition that reform in the direction of the market is necessary, cannot quite let go of their own admiration for the socialist system and its massive bureaucracies and cadres corps that provide such comfort and power. The market with its millions of private actors operating according to supply and demand must be accorded its place in "modern China," but the folks at the top still do not like it. The market reeks of everything that the old bureaucratic system was not: It is impersonal, efficient, and, worse yet, not amenable to the control of a single leader with his great "thoughts" and "visions." And so irrespective of all the favorable decisions toward reform rendered by recent CCP conferences and deliberations, the battle, the author contends, is far from over. Even as it concedes more space to market forces, the government has a vast array of powerful assets to block and make life difficult for private entrepreneurs and workersâto wit, the system of household registration >i>[hukou]>/i>, the labor allocation system, and the long-term effects of the rural-urban split that still impedes labor and capital mobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence R. Sullivan, 1998. "Guest Editor's Introduction," Chinese Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(2), pages 3-5, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:chinec:v:31:y:1998:i:2:p:3-5

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