Handbook of the Politics of China
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Handbook of the Politics of China

Edited by David S.G. Goodman

The Handbook of the Politics of China is a comprehensive resource introducing readers to the very latest in research on Chinese politics. David Goodman provides an introduction to the key structures and issues, providing the foundations on which later learning can be built. It contains four sections of new and original research, dealing with leadership and institutions, public policy, political economy and social change, and international relations and includes a comprehensive bibliography. Each of the 26 chapters has been written by an established authority in the field and each reviews the literature on the topic, and presents the latest findings of research. An essential primer for the study of China’s politics.
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Chapter 10: Economic policy

Barry Naughton


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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