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Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521898102
ISBN-10: 0521898102
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The development of the Chinese private sector is a key to the future shape and performance of the Chinese economy. At present, the subject is widely misunderstood. This book does more than any other to clarify the issues and point the way forward." - Christopher Howe, FBA, School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield

"Yasheng Huang is an insightful scholar of China's political economy. In this important book, he shows how China's rural economy took off in the 1980s, led by 'township and village enterprises' that were essentially private, only to be ignored in the 1990s by state-led development that focused on urban regions such as Shanghai. The 'Shanghai miracle,' he argues - and as any businessman who has worked there knows - was not the simple triumph of capitalism, but of a stronger and more intrusive (and effective) state. If one wants to understand the policy origins of China's growing divide between rich and poor, urban and rural, one need look no further than this book." - William Kirby, Harvard University

"Sure to generate a lively debate, Professor Huang's study provides a provocative and well-researched challenge to much current thinking on China's economic development. The widely shared gains of the 1980s have not been matched in more recent years. Danger signs include the stagnation in household incomes, growing inequality and illiteracy, and heightened governance problems. Huang argues that China will not be able to continue to grow unless the benefits of growth are widely shared through fundamental political and legal reforms." - Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale Law School

"Most books about China's economy and their authors fall into one of two camps: those that are hypercritical and those that are hyperlaudatory. Professor Huang's book is closer to the former than the latter, for example, he characterizes China's economy as '...crony capitalism built on systemic corruption and raw political power.' Yet, his book is different from, as well as better than, others in that genre because it gives ample recognition to contrary views and empirical data supporting them. Consequently, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics is both immensely informative and enormously provocative." - Charles Wolf, Jr., Pardee RAND Graduate School

"For years, Western economists are amazed that China's growth is obviously fueled by factor accumulation and yet her capital markets appear to be under developed. Yasheng Huang's book provides some refreshing information and analysis. He shows that in China's vast rural areas, which Western academics often cannot obtain good and detailed information, economic and financial liberalization went much further than credited by outside analysts and that the rigorous development of private entrepreneurship explained much of China's takeoff. His thesis is worthy of attention; this book will enhance our understanding of China's economy and lead us to take a more thorough look at the development process." - Bernard Yeung, University of Singapore Business School

"Original research on China is rare, largely because statistics, though plentiful, are notoriously unreliable. Mr Huang... has unearthed thousands of long-forgotten pages of memoranda and policy documents issued by bank chairmen, businessmen and state officials. In the process he has discovered two Chinas: one, from not so long ago, vibrant, entrepreneurial and rural; the other, today's China, urban and controlled by the state." - The Economist

"Written before the full force of the crisis became apparent, Yasheng Huang's Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Entrepreneurship and the State presciently anticipates the need for a guide to the least understood weaknesses in China's economy.... As a look at China's entrepreneurial economy in the 1980s and 1990s - and as a counterpoint to the misconception that China is steadily evolving into a more market-oriented economy - this book is unparalleled." - Mark L. Clifford, Time

"From the liberal right, Yasheng Huang's Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics is a tour de force of empirical inquiry, conceptual clarity and independence of mind. Anyone wanting to know what kind of economy, and what sort of growth, can be found in the PRC should now start here." - Perry Anderson, London Review of Books

"This is the work of a careful and deeply skeptical mind; one that excels in mining difficult to obtain and dodgy economic data and eschews received storylines.... If it is possible to come away from this impressively informed account of China's recent evolution still believing in the country's continued rise, it is well-nigh impossible to come away from exposure to Huang with one's faith in the standard narratives intact." - Howard French, chinabeat.org

"This is a book that clearly stands out from the recent China books, and it might be destined to become one of the big references in the field." - Julen Madariaga, chinayouren.com

"This is among the most important books to appear on contemporary China this decade. Motivated by a socially conscious economic liberalism and guided by a firmly positivist epistemology, Yasheng Huang challenges--and defeats--some of the most sacred myths surrounding Chinese political economy as reinforced by scholars and widely accepted by the general public. The book is essential reading for any political scientist specializing in China, international relations, comparative economic development, or comparative change."
Daniel C. Lynch, University of Southern California, Perspectives on Politics

"Huang's book should be required reading for all those who are interested in the contours of the Chinese political economy and the comparative dimensions of East Asian developmental states."
Jeremy Paltiel, Carleton University, Canadian Journal of Political Science

"The main contribution of the book lies in its meticulous examinations of voluminous government policy directives, statements and banking documents which yield significant insights into the relaxation of control over... China's financial sector in the 1980s and the macro-economic controls brought about by the Jiang Zeming-Zhu Rongji administration during the 1990s. It sheds important light over the internal mechanism of the two waves of China's economic reforms..."
George C.S. Lin, The University of Hong Kong, Pacific Affairs

"[Marshals] an impressive array of survey and documentary evidence ... a must-read for China specialists."
The Journal of Asian Studies

Book Description

This book presents a story of two Chinas - an entrepreneurial rural China and a state-controlled urban China. In the 1980s, rural China gained the upper hand, and the result was rapid as well as broad-based growth. In the 1990s, urban China triumphed. In the 1990s, the Chinese state reversed many of its productive rural experiments, with long-lasting damage to the economy and society.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521898102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521898102
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
To begin on a positive note: Yasheng Huang is not totally wrong, but he is wrong enough on so many counts to deserve a solid 1-star rating. I have two major criticisms: his use of data and his simplistic conclusions.

1) In contrast to the many positive reviews of this book I seriously doubt the way he handles (rather mishandles) the data just to create the notion that he found out something startling and new, contradicting the mainstream research.

A few examples: central to Huang's argument that the 1980s were China's "entrepreneurial decade" (Chapter 2) whereas the 90s were "statist" and guided by an "industrial policy mindeset" is his "finding" that actually township and village enterprises (TVEs) were more private-owned than collective. He alledges the mainstream got it all wrong by treating TVEs as collectives and marvelling at their rate of growth in spite of this fact. The problem is that Huang includes "getihu" (individual business-people) into the TVE category, which most other scholars exclude: they talk about manufacturing only, therefore it makes sense for them to exclude the small-scale traders and service businesses (=getihu). Huang does not "contradict" anyone here, he is merely playing around with the figures. Exactly because the geti-businesses are small-scale there are many of them. So it is unsurprising to find that, if we include them in the TVE category, the share of private ownership jumps.

While this looks like an exageration only, at other times, Huang plainly got it wrong. His observation (which in itself is true enough) that rural China was badly disadvantaged while the urban economy in China grew rapidly is supported by his claim "the illiteracy rate of the adult population increased from 6.72 percent in 2000 to 11.
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Professor Huang has written a brilliant critique of China's economic development (and of necessity, debunks much of what others have written about China's economy). He shows that China's development started in the 1980's with government programs focused on the rural economy, with programs designed to encourage rural entrepreneurs. Unfortunately with the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the new government leaders (technocrats from Shanghai) focused on major programs for urban areas, including massive construction projects and encouragement of foreign investment. Rural enterprises (and their required informal and official funding networks) were shut down. Although there was a proliferation of highrise buildings and massive construction projects (Three Gorges Dam, Shanghai's maglev, the Olympics,...) the result was slower income growth (especially in the rural areas), increasing illiteracy (parents could not afford to pay rapidly increasing tuitions), declining health care (hospitals, like schools, also became profit centers for local bureaucrats), expropriation of farmers' land, and much much more corruption, all of which has led to increasing social disorder among peasants who are finding themselves worse off. Party cadres' pay has rapidly increased and there are now far more of them. And productivity growth has declined or has even straight-lined. A return to the policies of the 1980's is clearly in order, but the current leaders, while trying to fix things, are still relying on top down commands and controls, and they have a much larger bureaucracy to keep happy.
Anyone trying to understand China's economic development over the last thirty years must read this.
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This is one of those books that very significantly change how we see a very important part of the world. The above reader review and the professional book reviews capture the book's strengths very well. I don't have the necessary expertise to question the author's interpretations, but they have immense credibility in their basis in detailed exploration of Chinese archives. For an historian a compelling use of documents to create a fundamentally new paradigm of recent Chinese economic history.
My only real complaint is with the editing: too often the same phrases are used to repeat the same message or qualification of the message. It becomes a little like a hypnotic poem: it makes sure we get the message, and given its novelty perhaps this is acceptable. I think that if the analysis of this book is accurate, then we can expect very significant disorder in China with the unfolding of the global credit crisis. And in a funny sort of way it will all be the result of the American and Chinese varieties of crony Capitalism. In both cases one has some sympathy for entrepreneurs and ordinary working people caught in the webs constructed by economic and political elites more keen on building their own enormous wealth than on the wider economy. The triumph of unenlightened self interest.
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Yasheng Huang seeks to overturn the way we look at China’s economic development. Writing in the 2008, he basically divides the reform era into halves: the 1980s, in which free-market rural reforms stimulated healthy, poverty-killing economic growth; and the 1990s, in which top-down directives generated wasteful urban investment that juiced GDP did little to help ordinary people -- or actively hurt them. (Huang reports that illiteracy rose dramatically in the ‘90s, partly because the government raised school fees in rural areas -- something I didn’t know, though I have long seen education as one of China’s weakest links.)
In Huang’s telling, Chinese policymakers made a disastrous shift away from laissez-faire in the countryside -- first as part of an ideological reaction to the Tiananmen protests and then as part of a technocratic city-centric industrial policy engineered by Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji. Huang treats with disdain the conventional views of China’s economic miracle, taking on big names such as Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs and Stephen Roach. No, he argues, state capitalism hasn’t driven China’s success. No, foreign direct investment doesn’t deliver a big payoff. (Unjustified faith in FDI, he argues, has led economists to underestimate the effectiveness of India’s economic reforms, which don’t rely much on foreigners.) No, Shanghai isn’t a model for development in emerging market economies; bustling, entrepreneurial Zhejiang Province is.
What worked for China and the Chinese people, in Huang’s view, were reforms that gave rural entrepreneurs confidence that they wouldn’t be arrested or hassled by authorities -- even though their property rights remained muddled.
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