The Rise of Industrial Policy in China, 1978-2012


Sebastian Heilmann and Lea Shih, University of Trier

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Abstract: This study examines the forces that facilitated the surge of national industrial policy programs in China after 2004. We trace the formative role of transnational exchanges with Japan for Chinese policy conceptions. Rivaling political and administrative actors filtered out those conceptions that could serve as either transitional or defensive policy recipes for pursuing their bureaucratic interests. During the 1990s, a core group of industrial policy advocates, through a series of large scale research projects and program drafting efforts, became a driving force at the center of a broader policy coalition. While this coalition was overlooked or underrated in Western research, its statist agenda came to dominate the peak bodies of policy-making under the Hu-Wen administration. Whereas many studies of Chinese economic administration focus on “plan vs. market” or “state vs. private sector” controversies, we suggest that four major advocacy coalitions are discernible in the contested arena of economic governance and state guidance.

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