Reflections on Chinese Political Economy



The aim of this paper is to discuss the reasons for the rapid growth in the Chinese economy over the last three decades. China has been growing fastest in human history, which has an impact on the global economy and also various challenges that the country faces. It is seen as heralding a major shift in the international division of labour through changes in its output and employment pattern. China is described as becoming the “work-shop” of the world as a result of the expansion of its manufacturing production. Its impact on other Asian economies and also on the world economy has the potential to be enormous. Market reforms and opening up of the Chinese economy to trade and foreign capital since the early 1980s, have unleashed entrepreneurial energies. China’s development policies can be best understood if these are looked at from an institutional economic perspective. This article is based on a review of published papers in the field of economic policies, focusing on the debate concerning the respective roles of the state and the market. A wide range of data sources are presented, including statistics compiled and generated by wide range of organisations such as IMF, World Bank and WTO that are non-governmental agencies. Secondary data of this type provides greater potential for addressing the research questions than statistics produced by the national government. This study finds that corporate debt has risen in recent years in China, a large part of these loans having been financed with investment in trust products issued by the banks. In addition, a huge amount of credit has been channelled into the real estate sector, and seems to be heading towards the housing and estate sectors, meaning that most of this is speculative. Investments are financed by credit; which clearly needs to be repaid. If these levels of debt become unsustainable this could pose a major challenge for the Chinese economy.

Keywords. Chinese economic reforms, state intervention, economic performance and trade.

JEL. F11, F40, N10.

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