Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EPW Special Issue on Thirty years of Chinese reforms

Economic and Political Weekly brought a selection of special articles analysing the thirty years after China announced wide ranging reforms that heralded a transition from the so called, "Maoist" era in the issue dated December 27,2008-January 2,2009. The issues covered included - inequality, class contradictions, property rights, rural industrialisation, the countermovement and so on. Presented are the article links with relevant abstracts from the site:

Inequality and Its Enemies in Revolutionary and Reform China
Ching Kwan Lee, Mark Selden

During the epochs of revolution and reform in China over the past six decades, under what conditions have heightened inequality and perceptions of inequality translated into the discernment of inequity and the stimulus to challenge the order perpetuating it? The paper throws light on the key institutions and mechanisms underlying, structuring and restructuring patterns of inequality, the changing features of popular resistance that inequality has bred, and the contested meanings and discourses of it.

Property Rights and the Social Costs of Transition and Development in China
Carl Riskin

There is considerable ferment over property rights in China today. This paper briefly explores important areas in which social unrest over property rights is currently under way, beginning with a discussion of the general debate about this issue in China, and then moving on to consider such rights in agriculture, intellectual property rights, and property rights in the environmental field. The objective is to indicate how the property rights debate overlaps the argument about social costs of transition, including widening income inequality, environmental devastation, and so on.

Rural Industrialisation and Spatial Inequality in China, 1978-2006
Chris Bramall

This study analyses the impact of rural industrialisation in China on poverty and spatial inequality at the county level between 1982 and 2000. The most positive consequence of industrialisation has been its contribution to absolute poverty reduction, especially in the coastal provinces. Much less clear is whether migration – mainly from west to east and driven by rural industrialisation – has contributed to poverty reduction in the interior. For, remittances have accrued mainly to the relatively well off rather than to the rural poor. More negatively, counties which were large exporters of labour have suffered a skill drain. However, the main adverse effect of rural industrialisation has been its exacerbation of spatial inequality, which has also resulted in a rise of inequalities in per capita gdp among China’s counties.

Double Movement in China
Shaoguang Wang

This paper traces China’s move towards a market economy in the mid-1980s, the near triumph of market forces in the 1990s, and the countermovement this engendered as inequalities between the rich and poor increased and social security networks collapsed. It focuses on the country’s regional and healthcare policies to illustrate how it has dealt with issues of inequality and insecurity over time. The prevailing view now is that the market is necessary but it must be embedded in society. And the state must play an active role in the market economy to prevent a disembedded and self-regulating market economy from dominating society.

A House Divided: China after 30 Years of ‘Reforms’

Robert Weil

The 30 years of Chinese capitalistic “reforms” now exceeds the 29 years of socialist revolution under Mao. A “new” China has emerged, economically powerful, showcased by the Olympics and spurred by nationalistic sentiments. But beneath this shiny surface there is growing polarisation between those with extreme wealth at the top and hundreds of millions in the working classes who have lost power and face a bleak struggle for survival in the global capitalist market. Despite ameliorative measures by the current leadership, there is no fundamental plan to reverse this ever widening divide. In the face of the deepening global economic crisis, these divisions are swelling. China is suffering its most severe downturn in decades, and working class protests are spreading. The Chinese left is re-emerging, but remains largely isolated from these popular forces. Only by beginning to bridge that gap, can China once again find a socialist alternative.

Light and Shadow of an Inarticulate Age: Reflections on China’s Reform
Pun Ngai

This tribute to the resilience of China’s migrant workers is by an academic who lived and worked among them in Shenzhen for seven months, sharing their screams and dreams. It touchingly portrays the plight of young migrant workers, many of them women, who have been caught in the grip of capital’s unscrupulous willingness to sacrifice anything in the pursuit of profit. Their efforts to organise themselves have been at best a partial success.

Socialism, Capitalism, and Class Struggle: The Political Economy of Modern China
Minqi Li

This essay traces the evolution of the political economy of China from the 1949 revolution up to the triumph of Chinese capitalism in 1992. It first describes and discusses the tremendous achievements in the first quarter century after the revolution, and also the struggles during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The essay outlines the context of the tussles that followed the death of Mao, the role of the “intellectuals”, the alliance or the lack of it with the urban working class during Tiananmen 1989 and how the forces represented by Deng Xiaoping were able to impose their writ on the economy and society of China.

China’s Rural Reform: Crisis and Ongoing Debate
Dale Jiajun Wen

Despite China’s dramatic transformation in the last three decades, its countryside is in a state of crisis. This study examines the dark side of the country’s economic “miracle”, looking into the various adverse effects that have followed the break-up of communes in rural areas and analysing their causes. It also examines the contentious issue of privatising landownership, which is favoured by those sympathetic to a neoliberal agenda, and reports on recent grass roots and government efforts to rebuild communities at the village level.

Globalisation Meets Its Match: Lessons from China’s Economic Transformation
Dic Lo , Yu Zhang

The sustained and rapid growth of the Chinese economy in the last three decades has been in sharp contrast to the prolonged stagnation in most parts of the nonwestern world. The persistence of a mixed economic system despite market reforms further contradicts the orthodox doctrines of globalisation. This study argues that China’s economic transformation has been mainly based on productivity improvement and is thus to a significant extent a real development. It has been achieved mainly through a process of “governing the market” by a set of structural-institutional factors that are China-specific but can be of general importance for late development worldwide.

1 comment:

ray said...


I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don't you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘A New Praxis in a changed world’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run www.rambhai.com where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)