Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by David S.G. Goodman
Chapter 10: Economic policy
The economy has been central to much of Chinese policy-making since 1978, yet the economic policy process itself has not been thoroughly studied. Like elite politics in general (Teiwes, Chapter 1 in this volume), much of economic policy-making is a black box. How is economic policy made? Do we understand the economic policy process? Which interest and opinion groups are most influential? This chapter attempts a partial answer to these questions, acknowledging that there is much that we do not know. I begin by placing economic policy in context, and argue that economic policy has a number of distinctive characteristics in the Chinese context. The next section defines economic policy and delineates the boundaries that separate economic policy from other political economy issues. The chapter goes on to describe the policy process, emphasizing the dominant role of the Premier. Five different policy regimes are sketched out, as five Premiers grapple with rapidly changing economic and political conditions. The next section divides economic policy into two types: structural policies and stabilization policies, both defined very broadly. It argues that, perhaps counter-intuitively, the Chinese system is better suited to a kind of change-oriented structural policy than it is to ordinary stabilization policies. The chapter then considers what kind of interest and opinion groups might appear to be influential in economic policy.
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