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Mutual Restraint, Mutual Promotion!

  • Qin Hui
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    Over the past few years, Eastern and Western cultures have once again become popular topics of comparative study. Unlike the "cultural heat" (>i>wenhua re>/i>) of recent vintage with its study of values, this new approach is focused much more on comparing political and economic systems.>sup>1>/sup> The two most important concepts for analysis—"economic freedom" and "economic democracy"—are both products of the West, though this time around there is little consideration of "human nature" as the primordial element of the argument. Despite this continued domination of Western notions, many people have concluded that in China's recent history the system that existed prior to reform was, in fact, more "economically democratic" than its Western counterparts where excessive freedom needed to be corrected by the introduction of Mao Zedong's vision of "economic democracy." Others, of course, take a different, though still nationalist, view, namely, that the height of "economic freedom" in China was achieved under the traditional system that had existed for thousands of years prior to the Opium Wars in the mid-nineteenth century. It, too, was superior to the system in the West where excessive democracy requires correction by the introduction of Confucian principles of "economic freedom." As opposite as these views are, they share two common points: (1) both assert the superiority of China—either in its pre-1978 reform or traditional, pre-Opium War mode—to the West, something presented as a source of national pride; and (2) both argue that economic freedom and economic democracy are contradictory principles involving "mutual restraint" (>i>xiangke>/i>).

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    Article provided by M.E. Sharpe, Inc. in its journal Chinese Economy.

    Volume (Year): 32 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 4 (July)
    Pages: 79-84

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    Handle: RePEc:mes:chinec:v:32:y:1999:i:4:p:79-84
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