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Sources of social support for China’s current political order: The “thick embeddedness” of private capital holders

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Abstract

In recent years, scholars have puzzled over the fact that China’s increased economic privatization and marketization since the early 1990s have not triggered a simultaneous advance in political liberalization. Many have sought to explain why – despite a marked upsurge in popular unrest – sources of social support for the political order have remained sizeable. Seeking to shed light on this debate, this article investigates the nature and implications of the political embeddedness of China’s private capital holders. The embeddedness of these individuals is “thick” in the sense that it encompasses an intertwined amalgam of instrumental ties and affective links to the agents and institutions of the party-state. Thick embeddedness therefore incorporates personal links that bind private capital holders to the party-state through connections that are layered with reciprocal affective components. Such close relations work against the potential interest that private capital holders might have in leading or joining efforts to press for fundamental political liberalization. Drawing on these findings, the article places China’s economic and political development in comparative perspective, and lays out the most likely scenarios for China’s future.

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... The literature largely explains that puzzle by emphasizing the specificity of the Chinese political economy in terms of the relation between the state and emerging capitalists. These studies posit that the Chinese state created the new bourgeoise so that it has adequate capacity to maintain control over it (So, 2003;Dickson, 2008;McNally and Wright, 2010;van der Pijl, 2012van der Pijl, , 2016McNally, 2017). In pursing their economic interests, new capitalists seek to participate in the state and to establish interpersonal relationships with officials, rather than seek an alternative political regime. ...
... Even more emphatically, McNally and Wright (2010)argue that the party has been successful in co-opting its emerging capitalists via benefits of privatization and subjective bonds of reciprocity, making the Chinese bourgeoisie deeply encrusted to the party-state apparatus for links that range 'Neutral government', proposed by Yao (2010Yao ( , 2011, is another influential and representative interpretation of the state as standing above class interests. Yao argues that the Chinese government has been a neutral government since the beginning of the reform era in the sense that it does not endorse any 'interest group' and it is able to discriminate any 'interest group' for its own purpose; this disinterested government sets economic growth as its main goal in order to maintain political legitimacy. ...
... There are many records of ex-managers or local officials who did not pay anything but became owners of privatized enterprises by means of loans to be paid with future profits. The literature summarizes this process as a 'privatization for the insiders' (Lau, 1999;Li and Rozelle, 2004;Chen, 2006;McNally and Wright, 2010). ...
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... As we will further show, different fractions within the capitalist class were instrumental to the growth pattern as they operationalized the party's strategy for rapid capital accumulation. These "red capitalists", to use Dickson's (2008) expression, were not in search for autonomy but rather closely "embedded" within the Party apparatus, being well-integrated into the political system and having no interest in challenging the party's rule during the 2000's (DICKSON, 2008;MCNALLY & T WRIGHT , 2010). It was a case of a symbiosis between communist leaders and capitalist business owners. ...
... Chinese privatization was pursued only after a vibrant non-state sector had been established and allowed the party-state to exercise greater control over a vast pool of hidden privately-held capital (CAO , 2001;MCNALLY & WRIGHT, 2010). ...
... Li and Rozelle's research on 600 rural industries shows that 92% of the privatized firms were transferred to their managers(LI & ROZELLE, 2004). In several cases, former managers were also former village heads, county party secretary or have occupied some other local position of leadership, leaving it clear that new capitalist class was clearly created from within the party(MCNALLY & WRIGHT, 2010). ...
... These authors, as well as Kroszner and Stratmann (1998), show that establishing political connection allows the entrepreneurs to influence the policy decision makers to put in place profitable policies for them. Political connection can also allow enterprises to avoid institutional constraints, such as administrative slowness (McNally & Wright, 2010; Zhou, 2009). Y. Chen and Touve (2011) show that bypassing administrative slowness helps the enterprises increase their productivity. ...
... According to Brandt and Zhu (2007), as well as Farrell et al. (2006), in countries where the business environment is corrupt, only the politically connected enterprises grow rapidly. Establishing political connection also protects the enterprises from national and international competition (McNally & Wright, 2010; Shih, 2004). Faccio, Masulis, and McConnell (2006) have found that the connected enterprises pay less tax and often benefit from public financial aid in case of bankruptcy. ...
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... Geralmente, eles próprios precificavam o valor dos ativos, o que implicava em preços irrisórios ou muito baixos, perdão de dívidas e crédito subsidiado para os compradores sem capital prévio -um processo que, na literatura, foi resumido como uma "privatização para os de dentro". Há inclusive inúmeros registros de ex-gerentes ou lideranças que não desembolsaram nada, tendo levado a compra adiante por meio de empréstimos a serem pagos com a lucratividade futura da própria empresa privatizada (LAU, 1999;LI e ROZELLE, 2004;HONG, 2004;CHEN, 2006;MCNALLY, 2010). ...
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RESUMO Este artigo complexifica o debate sobre o papel do Estado no desenvolvimento econômico ao lançar luz sobre uma dimensão muitas vezes ignorada na narrativa sobre o nacional-desenvolvimentismo na China: a relação do Partido-Estado com os capitalistas domésticos emergentes. Para tanto, nós analisamos os principais mecanismos utilizados para concentração de capital e formação de uma classe capitalista doméstica na China, evidenciamos a estreita relação dessa classe com o Partido-Estado e sugerimos como essa dinâmica se vincula com as mudanças no regime de acumulação. O objetivo é mostrar como o processo de formação da nova classe capitalista é uma via de mão dupla - um processo fortemente guiado pelo Partido-Estado, mas também sob crescente pressão da nova classe capitalista - e finamente articulado com o regime de acumulação de capital.
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... In reaction to political turbulence and changes in the institutional setting of Ukraine's political regime, Ukrainian big business adjusted its ties to the main political actors within the polity, which this article labels 'political embeddedness' (McNally and Wright 2010). This article elaborates how the political embeddedness of Ukrainian big business has changed over time and as a result what model of state-business relations developed during the presidencies of Kuchma (1994Kuchma ( -2005, Yushchenko (2005-09), Yanukovych (2010-13) and Poroschenko (from 2014), and is structured as follows. ...
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... There is much existing literature on the topic of Chinese state-market embeddedness, such as McNally and Wright (2010), that examines the nature and implications of the political embeddedness of China's private capital holders. The Chinese embeddedness can also be applied in the previous discussion on East Asian " developmental state " , which is a highly useful concept in understanding the interactive social relations between economic actors and institutional agents. ...
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... Nonprofits are embedded at the organizational level when they are incorporated into the state's formal establishment, even if they do not have government officials on their board. Organizational political connections are thus "thick embeddedness" (McNally & Wright, 2010), which institutionally differentiates politically connected nonprofits as official or semi-official instruments for state interest from pure mission-driven civic ones. ...
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... They are frequently members of Chambers of commerce or business associations organized at the level of local governments. For many private sector capitalists, the relations with state and party constitute an important component of economic activity, as they condition access to credit, land, authorization for going public, protection… (McNally & Wright, 2010;Bergère, 2007Bergère, , 2013. ...
... Bruce Dickson (2007), for his part, has repeatedly stated that private entrepreneurs support China's political system and are an essential part of the CCP's strategy for survival (see also Dickson, 2003;Chen and Dickson, 2008;Chen An, 2002). Most China scholars have followed the same line of argument, emphasizing private entrepreneurs' "regime embeddedness" (McNally, Guo, and Hu, 2007;McNally and Wright, 2010). ...
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This article, the product of several years of extensive fieldwork, seeks to reinvigorate the debate on China’s private entrepreneurs by arguing that they have become a “strategic group” within the Chinese polity. While they do not openly challenge the current regime, they continuously alter the power balance within the current regime coalition, which connects them to the party-state at all administrative levels. As the future of Chinese socialism depends on the sound development of the private-sector economy and, therefore, on the promotion of private entrepreneurship, it can be expected that entrepreneurial influence within the regime coalition will rise, with inevitable consequences for regime legitimacy and stability.
... See Sun 2004.40Lau 1999;Li and Rozelle 2004;Chen 2006;McNally and Wright 2010. ...
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... There is much existing literature on the topic of Chinese state-market embeddedness, such as McNally and Wright (2010), that examines the nature and implications of the political embeddedness of China's private capital holders. The Chinese embeddedness can also be applied in the previous discussion on East Asian "developmental state", which is a highly useful concept in understanding the interactive social relations between economic actors and institutional agents. ...
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El presente capítulo pretende discutir las contradicciones en términos de empleo y, en definitiva, de la sostenibilidad social que implica un modelo de acumulación basado en la profundización de la explotación de los recursos naturales y liderado por fracciones asociadas al agronegocio y el sector financiero, en el marco de la (re)emergencia internacional de China y sus transformaciones derivadas. A fin de discutir la sostenibilidad social del modelo de acumulación, el texto cuenta con tres secciones. En la primera trazamos una breve trayectoria histórica del paralelismo entre las reformas estructurales de China y Argentina en las últimas décadas del siglo XX y mostramos cómo dichas trayectorias se relacionan a inicios de siglo XXI en el plano comercial y de inversiones con sus respectivos impactos en el empleo. Posteriormente, vinculamos esos elementos con los patrones de acumulación domésticos, los bloques en el poder y el Estado (Poulantzas, 1985) durante el período 2003-2018. Por último, presentamos algunas breves consideraciones finales.
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This paper investigates the effect of state-business relations (SBR) and institutional settings on government decisions to foster innovation in developing countries. It differentiates between informal SBR-based cronyism and formal SBR-based lobbying and how they could influence a government’s decision to implement policies fostering innovation. After a theoretical discussion on the available literature, a theoretical model building on and complementing the Aghion and Howitt (2009) growth model with institutions is introduced. The model provides predictions on which institutional settings induce the government to support innovation, rather than technology imitation/transfer strategies. Using the random-effects regression model, the empirical results support some of the model’s predictions. This includes the negative effect of cronyism and the positive effect of public frustration from cronyism on choosing the innovation strategy. A positive effect also results from a situation where natural resources-caused economic growth is matched by institutional reform that curbs cronyism and mitigates the resource curse. A short discussion on some case studies follows before the paper ends with a conclusion.
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Guanxi and guanxi capitalism are much-debated terms in the context of China’s evolving political economy. This article explores the changing nature of China’s guanxi capitalism. It analyzes first various aspects of guanxi capitalism, a unique conceptual blend infused with seemingly incongruous cultural and historical meanings drawn from both Chinese and Western roots. It then introduces three case studies of private firms, illustrating empirically how Chinese entrepreneurs’ relationship with the political system is evolving. The article ends by assessing the ways in which political factors, guanxi practices and capitalist accumulation are interacting and changing. I hold that guanxi capitalism is playing a crucial role in realigning the interests of state and capital in China. It yields idiosyncratic benefits to certain Chinese private firms, while also bridging the logics of freewheeling capital accumulation and authoritarian control in a state-dominated economy. In this view, guanxi capitalism encompasses both contradictory and complementary institutional logics. Since the persistence of Leninist control generates “deliberate ambiguity†in how China’s private sector is governed, the penetration of guanxi networks into government-business relations creates institutional space that enables both Leninist control and relentless capital accumulation to proceed, in turn lending China’s emergent capitalism a unique quality.
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Over the past three decades, China has undergone a historic transformation. Once illegal, its private business sector now comprises 30 million businesses employing more than 200 million people and accounting for half of China's Gross Domestic Product. Yet despite the optimistic predictions of political observers and global business leaders, the triumph of capitalism has not led to substantial democratic reforms. In Capitalism without Democracy, Kellee S. Tsai focuses on the activities and aspirations of the private entrepreneurs who are driving China's economic growth. The famous images from 1989 of China's new capitalists supporting the students in Tiananmen Square are, Tsai finds, outdated and misleading. Chinese entrepreneurs are not agitating for democracy. Most are working eighteen-hour days to stay in business, while others are saving for their one child's education or planning to leave the country. Many are Communist Party members. "Remarkably," Tsai writes, "most entrepreneurs feel that the system generally works for them." Tsai regards the quotidian activities of Chinese entrepreneurs as subtler and possibly more effective than voting, lobbying, and protesting in the streets. Indeed, major reforms in China's formal institutions have enhanced the private sector's legitimacy and security in the absence of mobilization by business owners. In discreet collaboration with local officials, entrepreneurs have created a range of adaptive informal institutions, which in turn, have fundamentally altered China's political and regulatory landscape. Based on years of research, hundreds of field interviews, and a sweeping nationwide survey of private entrepreneurs funded by the National Science Foundation, Capitalism without Democracy explodes the conventional wisdom about the relationship between economic liberalism and political freedom.
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The authors show that economic development increases the probability that a country will undergo a transition to democracy. These results contradict the finding of Przeworski and his associates, that development causes democracy to last but not to come into existence in the first place. By dealing adequately with problems of sample selection and model specification, the authors discover that economic growth does cause nondemocraciesto democratize. They show that the effect of economic development on the probability of a transition to democracy in the hundred years between the mid-nineteenth century and World War II was substantial, indeed, even stronger than its effect on democratic stability.They also show that, in more recent decades, some countries that developed but remained dictatorships would, because of their development, be expected to democratize in as few as three years after achieving a per capita income of $12,000 per capita.
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China's economic growth and transition pose fascinating questions for social scientists. In the economic realm, proponents of the market-preserving federalism (MPF) model appear to have gone too far. In reality, China's central leadership has retained the prerogative to appoint top provincial officials as well as the power to reconfigure central-provincial fiscal relations, thus defying predictions of the MPF model. In the social realm, rapid growth has propelled the expansion of the middle class, but the large increase in inequality has sharpened social cleavages and class conflicts. The uncertainties of market transition and rising social conflicts pose major challenges for the ruling elite and for China's political development.
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This paper explores the role of favor exchange practices—Chinese guanxi and Russian blat—on investment and entrepreneurship. In both societies policies which supported marketization were undermined by actual institutions, including an insufficient legal structure for enforcing contracts. But cultural resources armed Chinese and Russians differently to react to these circumstances. Guanxi practice allowed people to create networks, to build trust, and to reach out. It was a tool which could be used to build enough trust to allow business transactions to succeed—capitalism without contracts. In contrast, Russian blat devolved into corruption, and faded in importance for ordinary citizens. Without a way to build trust or extend networks, Russians retreated into defensive involution, and engaged in predatory behavior against those outside their small circles of friends. Instead of capitalism without contracts, Russia suffered the depredations of capitalists without capitalism.
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In Wealth into Power, Bruce Dickson challenges the notion that economic development is leading to political change in China, or that China's private entrepreneurs are helping to promote democratization. Instead, they have become partners with the ruling Chinese Communist Party to promote economic growth while maintaining the political status quo. Dickson's research illuminates the Communist Party's strategy for incorporating China's capitalists into the political system and how the shared interests, personal ties, and common views of the party and the private sector are creating a form of “crony communism.” Rather than being potential agents of change, China's entrepreneurs may prove to be a key source of support for the party's agenda. Based on years of research and original survey data, this book will be of interest to all those interested in China's political future and in the relationship between economic wealth and political power.
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Conventional wisdom has long assumed that economic liberalization undermines repressive regimes. Recent events, however, suggest that savvy autocrats have learned how to cut the cord between growth and freedom, enjoying the benefits of the former without the risks of the latter. Washington and international lenders should take note.
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China's rapid economic development is being accomplished through a system of industrial governance and transaction that differs from Western experience. Here, we identify the broad institutional nature of this distinctiveness within a framework of information codification and diffusion. The emergent features of China's economic order are analyzed with reference to the business system developing there, in particular, the nature of market arrangements, the form of capitalism, and the role of government within that system. The limited extent of codification of information in China and its communal property rights and organization of economic transactions suggest that decentralization from the former state-command system is giving rise to a distinctive institutional form--network capitalism.
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Viewing the evolving relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and private entrepreneurs, this book examines the implications of recruiting entrepreneurs into the communist party. It has given rise to the label of "red capitalists." Although many foreign observers expect economic change to lead inevitably to political change in China, this book reveals that China's entrepreneurs are willing partners with the state; not an autonomous force in opposition to the state. © Bruce J. Dickson 2003 and Cambridge University Press, 2009. All rights reserved.
Article
After two and half decades of market reforms in China, the question of whether reforms have created favourable social conditions for democracy and whether the country's emerging entrepreneurial class will serve as the democratic social base have become hotly debated issues in both academic and policy circles. Based upon an analysis of two regions – Sunan and Wenzhou, the two prototypical local development patterns in China – the article argues that different patterns of economic development have produced distinct local level social and political configurations, only one of which is likely to foster the growth of democratic practices. It suggests that China's political future is largely dependent upon the emerging class structure and class relations that reform and development have produced. If the market reforms and economic development only enrich a few (like the Sunan case), then the possibility of democratic transition will likely be very bleak. Nonetheless, the possibility of a brighter alternative exists, as demonstrated by the Wenzhou case. These arguments thus link China's political transition to critical social conditions, echoing Barrington Moore's influential work on the social origins of democracy and dictatorship.
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This article uses the case of Chinese lawyers, their professional trou- bles, and their coping strategies to build on and develop the concept of political embeddedness. Data from a first-of-its-kind 25-city sur- vey suggest that political embeddedness, defined broadly as bu- reaucratic, instrumental, or affective ties to the state and its actors, helps Chinese lawyers survive their everyday difficulties, such as routine administrative interference, official rent seeking, and police harassment and intimidation. The article draws the ironic conclusion that legal practice in China reveals at least as much about the en- during salience of socialist institutions as it does about incipient capitalist and "rule of law" institutions. Lawyers' dependence on state actors both inside and outside the judicial system preserves the value of political connections inside the very institutions that some sociologists have argued are responsible for obviating the need for such guanxi. Legal practice for many Chinese lawyers is fraught with difficulties and dangers. The challenges they routinely face include various forms of ob- struction, harassment, intimidation, and even physical abuse, often at the hands of personnel in the public security administration (the police sys- tem), the procuracy (the public prosecutor's office), and courts—lumped together in common parlance as the gongjianfa. Surviving and even thriv- 1
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This article questions predictions about China’s democratic potential based on rising incomes in the private sector. For private entrepreneurs to constitute a democratizing force, structural theories expect two causal links: first, class formation; and second, collective action. This article examines national surveys of business owners, proposes a typology of entrepreneurs’ political behavior, and concludes that class formation has not occurred among private entrepreneurs. The absence of a common basis for identity and interaction challenges the hypothesis that China’s new capitalists might engage in collective action to demand democracy. Entrepreneurs should, thus, be examined at a lower level of abstraction rather than lumped into a catchall capitalist “middle class.” Taking into account the employment background, social networks, and local political conditions of people in apparently similarly situated groups is essential for explaining political dynamics in transitional contexts where the identities and interests of new economic actors are mediated by prereform experiences.
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Building on research that analyzes how social relations and networks (guanxi) shape the Chinese market, this article asks a less-studied question: How is the market changing guanxi? The authors trace the transformation of guanxi from communal, kin-based ties to a cultural metaphor with which diverse individuals build flexible social relationships in late-socialist China. As a “generalized particularism,” this cultural metaphor provides something analogous to the culture of civility in Western societies. The authors discuss the political potential of guanxi in terms of its dual tendency toward the “publicization” and “privatization” of power. The development of guanxi civility suggests the diverse cultural origins of civility and serves as a reminder of the particularistic roots in the universalistic assumption of Western civility.
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This article begins by focusing on the distributive implications of factions, as conceptualized by past theorists. This article then operationalizes faction as a quantitative variable using some well-established assumptions about factions. A cross-section, time-series model is then used to test the impact of factions and the intensity of factional ties on the distribution of bank loans in reform era China. Two pairs of case studies are further used to illustrate the importance of factional ties in the allocation of scarce resources in the Chinese political system. The findings are unambiguous: factional ties with top leaders can bring substantial advantage in obtaining scarce resources in the system.
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Given the mixed signals and trends in China, it may be premature to identify a specific timeframe within which China will become Free or even Partly Free on the Freedom House scale. A more fruitful intellectual exercise might be to ask not when but how the Middle Kingdom could become Free. No one should underrate the will and skill that the ruling Chinese Communist Party will put into keeping its grip on power.
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Journal of Democracy 14.1 (2003) 6-17 After the Tiananmen crisis in June, 1989, many observers thought that the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would collapse. Instead, the regime brought inflation under control, restarted economic growth, expanded foreign trade, and increased its absorption of foreign direct investment. It restored normal relations with the G-7 countries that had imposed sanctions, resumed the exchange of summits with the United States, presided over the retrocession of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, and won the right to hold the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It arrested or exiled political dissidents, crushed the fledgling China Democratic Party, and seems to have largely suppressed the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Many China specialists and democracy theorists—myself among them—expected the regime to fall to democratization's "third wave." Instead, the regime has reconsolidated itself. Regime theory holds that authoritarian systems are inherently fragile because of weak legitimacy, overreliance on coercion, overcentralization of decision making, and the predominance of personal power over institutional norms. This particular authoritarian system, however, has proven resilient. The causes of its resilience are complex. But many of them can be summed up in the concept of institutionalization—understood either in the currently fashionable sense of behavior that is constrained by formal and informal rules, or in the older sense summarized by Samuel P. Huntington as consisting of the adaptability, complexity, autonomy, and coherence of state organizations. This article focuses on four aspects of the CCP regime's institutionalization: 1) the increasingly norm-bound nature of its succession politics; 2) the increase in meritocratic as opposed to factional considerations in the promotion of political elites; 3) the differentiation and functional specialization of institutions within the regime; and 4) the establishment of institutions for political participation and appeal that strengthen the CCP's legitimacy among the public at large. While these developments do not guarantee that the regime will be able to solve all the challenges that it faces, they do caution against too-hasty arguments that it cannot adapt and survive. As this article is published, the Chinese regime is in the middle of a historic demonstration of institutional stability: its peaceful, orderly transition from the so-called third generation of leadership, headed by Jiang Zemin, to the fourth, headed by Hu Jintao. Few authoritarian regimes—be they communist, fascist, corporatist, or personalist—have managed to conduct orderly, peaceful, timely, and stable successions. Instead, the moment of transfer has almost always been a moment of crisis—breaking out ahead of or behind the nominal schedule, involving purges or arrests, factionalism, sometimes violence, and opening the door to the chaotic intrusion into the political process of the masses or the military. China's current succession displays attributes of institutionalization unusual in the history of authoritarianism and unprecedented in the history of the PRC. It is the most orderly, peaceful, deliberate, and rule-bound succession in the history of modern China outside of the recent institutionalization of electoral democracy in Taiwan. Hu Jintao, the new general secretary of the CCP as of the Sixteenth Party Congress in November 2002, has held the position of successor-apparent for ten years. Four of the other eight top-ranking appointments (Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Zeng Qinghong, and Luo Gan) had been decided a year or two in advance. The remaining four members of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) were simply elevated from the outgoing Politburo. Barring a major crisis, the transition will continue to an orderly conclusion in March 2003, leading to the election of Hu Jintao as state president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Wu Bangguo as chair of the National People's Congress (NPC), and Wen Jiabao as premier. Outgoing officials President Jiang Zemin, NPC Chair Li Peng, and Premier Zhu Rongji will leave their state offices, having already left their Party offices in the fall, and will cease to have any direct role in politics. It takes some historical perspective to appreciate this outcome for the achievement that it is. During the Mao years, Party congresses and National People's Congresses seldom met, and when they did it was rarely on schedule. There have never before...
Article
This article asks: "What will be the future character of China's political system?" According to Freedom House, all countries above a certain income level are rated at least Partly Free, so why not China? Assuming continued growth in education and the economy, the model result shows it edging into that category by 2015 and Free by 2025. Despite evident negatives, changes in personal liberties, legal system, media, village elections, and individual values support this prediction. An in-between stage might involve more open competition within the party. When achieved, a democratic China would be a positive factor for peace in Asia.
Article
Many classic works of political economy have identified capital and labor as the champions of democratization during the first wave of transition. By contrast, this article argues for the contingent nature of capital and labor's support for democracy, especially in the context of late development. The article offers a theory of democratic contingency, proposing that a few variables, namely, state dependence, aristocratic privilege, and social fear account for much of the variation found in class support for democratization both across and within cases. Conditions associated with late development make capital and labor especially prone to diffidence about democratization. But such diffidence is subject to change, especially under the impact of international economic integration, poverty-reducing social welfare policies, and economic growth that is widely shared. Case material from Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Zambia, Brazil, Tunisia and other countries is offered as evidence.
Article
In addressing claims that the art of guanxi is declining in China's current incorporation of capitalism, this article argues that guanxi must be treated historically as a repertoire of cultural patterns and resources which are continuously transformed in their adaptation to, as well as shaping of, new social institutions and structures, and by the particular Chinese experience with globalization. The article takes issue with approaches which treat guanxi as a fixed essentialized phenomenon which can only wither away with the onslaught of new legal and commercial regimes. Rather, as the examples of Taiwan and post-socialist Russia's encounter with capitalism suggest, guanxi practice may decline in some social domains, but find new areas to flourish, such as business transactions, and display new social forms and expressions. This historical approach to guanxi, which is sensitive to issues of power both within the Chinese social order and between China and the West, is especially critical of the unreflective positivist methodology and the teleology of modernization theory/narrative and neo-liberal discourse embedded in the argument for the decline of guanxi.
Article
This paper addresses the following questions: What are the key elements of the middle class? What do they really want? To what extent can the middle class serve as an agent for democratic change? Why is the Party trying to co-opt the middle class? Is the middle class a willing partner with the state or an autonomous force in opposition to the state? The paper concludes that at present, the new middle class as a whole does not pose any significant threat to current regime. It quietly endorses the leadership in Beijing. Nevertheless, in the long run, the middle class will have a significant impact upon the socio-political structure in China.
Article
Given the fact that the new private entrepreneurs (NPEs) are playing an increasingly important role in Chinese politics and economy, this article maps the historical evolution of the NPEs through analyzing five main private business groups, including small individual businessmen, price speculators, land speculators, enterprise investors and high-tech investors. The article also examines six major ways that the NPEs have sought to protect their private property and improve their moral reputation, ranging from obtaining the Communist Party membership, congressional seat and an official position within a government branch, to relying on the law, participating in the local election process, and contributing to charitable causes. In so doing, they have increased their influence in the Chinese political, social, and economic spheres.
Article
The concept of embeddedness has general applicability in the study of economic life and can alter theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of economic behaviors. Argues that in modern industrial societies, most economic action is embedded in structures of social relations. The author challenges the traditional economic theories that have both under- and oversocialized views of the conception of economic action and decisions that merge in their conception of economic actors atomized (separated) from their social context. Social relations are assumed to play on frictional and disruptive, not central, roles in market processes. There is, hence, a place and need for sociology in the study of economic life. Productive analysis of human action requires avoiding the atomization in the extremes of the over- and undersocialized concepts. Economic actors are neither atoms outside a social context nor slavish adherents to social scripts. The markets and hierarchies problem of Oliver Williamson (with a focus on the question of trust and malfeasance) is used to illustrate the use of embeddedness in explicating the proximate causes of patterns of macro-level interest. Answers to the problem of how economic life is not riddled with mistrust and malfeasance are linked to over- and undersocialized conceptions of human nature. The embeddedness argument, on the contrary, stresses the role of concrete personal relations and networks (or structures) in generating trust and discouraging malfeasance in economic life. It finds a middle way between the oversocialized (generalized morality) and undersocialized (impersonal institutional arrangements) approaches. The embeddedness approach opens the way for analysis of the influence of social structures on market behavior, specifically showing how business relations are intertwined with social and personal relations and networks. The approach can easily explain what looks otherwise like irrational behavior. (TNM)
Article
Gift-giving is a classic topic in anthropology, where on-going debates involve the principle of reciprocity, the spirit of the gift, and the relationship between gifts and commodities. But the topic has been surprisingly little studied in the Chinese context except for the form of instrumental exchange known as networking or guanxi.
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Análisis los cambios políticos que poco a poco se viven en China como consecuencia de la apertura de sus comercio hacia el exterior y en la privatización de la industria; asimismo, se revisan las actividades y las aspiraciones políticas, económicas y personales de los empresarios que están haciendo que crezca la presencia comercial de la nación asiática en el mundo. Este estudio le sirve a la autora para explorar la relación entre el liberalismo económico y la libertad política.
Zhongguo fuhao zai renda
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