Comparative Law and Regulation
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Comparative Law and Regulation

Understanding the Global Regulatory Process

Edited by Francesca Bignami and David Zaring

Governance by regulation – rules propounded and enforced by bureaucracies – is taking a growing share of the sum total of governance. Once thought to be an American phenomenon, it is now a central form of state action in every part of the world, including Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and it is at the core of much international lawmaking. In Comparative Law and Regulation, original contributions by leading scholars in the field focus both on the legal dimension of regulation and on how this dimension operates in those places that have turned to regulation to meet their obligations.
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Chapter 3: The regulatory state in East Asia

John Ohnesorge


The societies of East Asia, which here refers to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the People’s Republic of China (China), have followed a broadly similar path in adopting structures and methods of the regulatory state or regulatory capitalism, a path which continues to influence the scope and functioning of regulatory government in the region. This chapter will outline that path, which, to generalize, preferred civil servants to judges and emphasized informal collaboration more than it did formal process, or, for that matter, conflict resolution. It highlights commonalities as well as differences among the countries within the region, and discusses historical, political, and economic underpinnings for that path. The chapter will also explore areas where that path differs most significantly from the trajectories of the United States and of Germany, the Western systems that have had the most influence in the region. Although all elements of the regulatory state model will be discussed in the East Asian context, focus will be on legal-institutional attributes such as independent regulatory agencies and rule-based governance rather than substantive policy choices such as privatization and deregulation, though this approach treats legal institutions and substantive policies as intimately related. Studying the East Asian case in comparative perspective demonstrates the importance of interactions, over time, between imported institutions and local social and political forces.

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