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Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China [Paperback]

Andrew Wedeman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 3, 2012 080147776X 978-0801477768 1

According to conventional wisdom, rising corruption reduces economic growth. And yet, between 1978 and 2010, even as officials were looting state coffers, extorting bribes, raking in kickbacks, and scraping off rents at unprecedented rates, the Chinese economy grew at an average annual rate of 9 percent. In Double Paradox, Andrew Wedeman seeks to explain why the Chinese economy performed so well despite widespread corruption at almost kleptocratic levels.

Wedeman finds that the Chinese economy was able to survive predatory corruption because corruption did not explode until after economic reforms had unleashed dynamic growth. To a considerable extent corruption was also a by-product of the transfer of undervalued assets from the state to the emerging private and corporate sectors and a scramble to capture the windfall profits created by their transfer. Perhaps most critically, an anticorruption campaign, however flawed, has proved sufficient to prevent corruption from spiraling out of control. Drawing on more than three decades of data from China—as well as examples of the interplay between corruption and growth in South Korea, Taiwan, Equatorial Guinea, and other nations in Africa and the Caribbean—Wedeman cautions that rapid growth requires not only ongoing and improved anticorruption efforts but also consolidated and strengthened property rights.

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Double Paradox: Rapid Growth and Rising Corruption in China + Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power, and Democracy + Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform
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Editorial Reviews


"This fascinating and fabulous volume by Wedeman seeks to address the question of how rapid economic development and widespread corruption can coexist in China. Wedeman introduces readers to the double paradox of corruption and growth in post-Mao China, examines developmental corruption in South Korea and Taiwan, demonstrates how endemic corruption led to economic crises in several other countries, discusses the sequencing of corruption and growth, probes the dynamic consequences of the commodification of China's economy, looks into the impact of the authorities' ongoing war on corruption, and compares today's China with the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries and asks whether China's case may serve as a precedent for the coexistence of high levels of corruption and rapid economic growth."—Choice (October 2012)

"The central question of Double Paradox—how rapid economic development and widespread corruption coexist in China—is of major importance. Andrew Wedeman explains that the sequence of events is complex and worth careful scrutiny; there is considerable dynamism and simultaneity in any corruption/development relationship. By the end of Wedeman's book, we have learned a great deal about China, about the possible links between corruption and economic development, and about how to frame the questions we wish to investigate in China and in other societies in which corruption is extensive."—Michael Johnston, Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science, Colgate University, author of Syndromes of Corruption

About the Author

Andrew Wedeman is Professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the author of From Mao to Market: Rent Seeking, Local Protectionism, and Marketization in China and The East Wind Subsides: Chinese Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Cultural Revolution.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080147776X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801477768
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,228,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart September 4, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author did an excellent job in looking at both corruption, our western view of corruption and how really bad it is in China. As some who has worked in China - this academic nailed the topic.. Anyone one working in or dependent upon a chinese supply chain MUST read and understand this message.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Gilded Dragon March 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I titled this review "The Gilded Dragon" because late in the book, the author looks at possible parallels between the Age of Robber Barons in America and current Chinese economic development. But before pursuing this, let me make a couple of quick observations.

My first observation is that the prospective reader will learn much about the subject of corruption in China by going over the "Review" and "Product Description" attached to the above Amazon Book entry. My second observation is that it is useful for anyone, me included, to be comfortable coexisting with a paradox when studying China's governing structure and its economy; it would seem Dr. Wedeman is. Maybe that's not so surprising, given that his biography points to his upbringing in South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, and India, plus extensive travel and study time in Taiwan and China.

This book is readable for the general public though it leans quite a bit more towards a doctoral dissertation style of argument, counter argument, with loads of foot notes and extensive bibliography. The "paradox" Dr. Wedeman describes seems to boil down to this: How come the economic theory that a nation whose economy is riddled with corruption will ultimately fail, does not seem to hold in the case of modern China? After reading through this book, with this question oft repeated and many examples of how corruption destroys given, I'm left with the same question: So how come?

The Gilded Age of the Robber Barons seemed to me to be used by the author as a helpful, one might even say hopeful lesson in a possible evolutionary scenario for China. Indeed, the term "progressive" was used to describe how the Victorian Age excesses were brought to heal in America at the turn of the 20th Century.
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