- Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Carla P. Freeman
Chapter 2: The China model: an authoritarian state-led modernization
China’s economic success, particularly its success in weathering the global financial crisis in 2008, led to a hot debate among both Western and Chinese scholars. The debate was over whether China had discovered a new model of state capitalism, i.e., a mixture of a capitalist economy and an authoritarian state, for itself and potentially for other emerging economies as an alternative to the model of liberal capitalism forced upon the world by the Western countries. This debate cooled down for a few years but resurged after President Xi Jinping came to office in 2013 and endorsed the China model as part of his ‘China Dream’ vision of national rejuvenation. Placing the China model debate in the context of China’s historical search for power and wealth, this chapter argues that China has indeed developed a model in which the authoritarian state plays a crucial role in developing the economy while maintaining one-party rule. While the peculiar combination of authoritarian state and capitalist economy has demonstrated unequivocal strengths, there is also clear evidence that there are serious limits to its long-run sustainability.
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