Do you have a box for China?

Does China’s renaissance require greater state control of the economy? A look at the last decade shows progressive advances by the State in the private sector, as we have discussed here.


The most critical spoke of a new wave of nationalizations in the 1950s and the return of the “公私合营 Public-private partnership.”
In the face of the turmoil caused by the Sino-American trade war and the epidemic, the government asked the private sector for more patriotism, Xi Jinping himself on September 16, and a communiqué from the central government website. In exchange, these companies will have the full support of the State. The phenomenon is not new. The biggest private companies had to find help to develop. Until then, they played with the influence of the various clans. This time, the State is showing its ambition. It wants more unity.

Nothing new

To overcome ideological clichés, going back in history allows us to realize that the hand of the State over the private sector, described as the soft ” 公私合营 Public-private partnership,” is not new. The nationalist government of the Republic of China (1927-1949), inspired by Sun Yatsen’s ideas, had already shown such practices as early as 1935, and this is not a first in the country’s long history.

It is necessary to go back to the 7th century B. C. and find Guan Zhong 管仲. Prime Minister of the State of Qi during the Spring and Autumn period, a supporter of a powerful state and a strong army, he needed money to finance defense and military attacks. He recognized the importance of economic vitality, but he was suspicious of nobles and merchants. He excluded them from essential areas to create state monopolies, especially on natural resources such as salt and iron. The central government collected taxes itself and put the power of the time on a folding chair.
This move towards the private sector comes at a difficult time when the announced decoupling risks penalizing China on many fronts. Tightening the troops is essential.

A reaction to particular articles that forget to consider Chinese history. The current authoritarian State has not come out of the hat of the modern government. A robust Chinese state has always tried to “frame” the economy and its actors. Some Western reactions can sometimes be explained by the lack of knowledge about the country and the difficulty of putting China in a box. Some see it as socialist, others as capitalist. Some texts brandish the specter of dictatorship. Why put China in a box? Let’s describe and look instead of hiding our view with our ideas or an ideology that replaces yesteryear’s catechism!

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Where is China going?

4 October 2020

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