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The Price of China's Economic Development

Power, Capital, and the Poverty of Rights

The People's Republic of China has experienced significant transformations since Deng Xiaoping instituted economic reforms in 1978. Subsequent leaders continued and often broadened Deng's policies, shifting the nation from agrarianism to industrialism, from isolation to internationalism, and from centralized planning to market-based economics. As the world strives to understand the nation's rapid development, few observers have comprehensively examined the social and cultural price of the economic boom for the majority of the Chinese people.

Zhaohui Hong assesses the sociocultural consequences of these reforms in this provocative study. He contends that modern China functions as an oligarchy or plutocracy ruled by an alliance of political power and private capital where the boundaries between the private and public sectors are constantly shifting. This "power-capital institution" based on three millennia of Confucian ideology and decades of Maoist communism exercises monopolistic control of public resources at the expense of civil society and social justice for the majority of citizens.

The Price of China's Economic Development urges policymakers to alter their analytic lens. While industrial and commercial development is quantitatively measured, Hong argues that social progress should be assessed qualitatively, with justice its ultimate goal and fair allocation of resources and opportunity as the main index of success. This sophisticated analysis introduces English speakers to the varied and significant work of contemporary Chinese scholars and substantially enriches the international dialogue.

About the Author

Zhaohui Hong, professor of economic history at Purdue University Calumet, is the author or coeditor of several books, including Dilemmas of Reform in Jiang Zemin's China.

Reviews

"This work provides a theoretically sophisticated analysis of major political, social, economic, and cultural trends in China. There are few other scholars as well versed in the Sino-American comparison or as systematic in attempting to work out the socio-cultural similarities and differences between the two societies."—Roger des Forges, author of Chinese Walls in Time and Space: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

"This book offers an insightful and innovative perspective on modern China, and it brings an important current of contemporary Chinese thought to English language literature. The analysis is creative and novel, and the book will certainly be of interest to a broad range of China scholars. The balance of empirical and normative argument is commendable."—Barrett McCormick, author of What If China Doesn't Democratize? Implications for War and Peace

"This timely work presents a new perspective on China's economic growth and ongoing political problems. It also provides a better understanding of China's institutional transformation and social changes."—Xiaobing Li, editor of Modern Chinese Legal Reform: New Perspectives

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