Chinese State Capitalism

Diagnosis and Prognosis

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How should China’s economy be described? Is it capitalist, socialist, command and control, or a mixture of all three? More than four decades after the post-Mao Zedong leadership launched their economic reforms, the precise nature of the country’s economy and the political orientation of the institutions that govern it remain subject to debate. The CSIS Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics and the CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies convened some of the world’s leading experts on China’s political economy for a two-day workshop in March 2021, from which the essays in this volume emerged. The views expressed in these pages are far from unified, either in their diagnosis of what precisely China’s state capitalist system is or in their prognosis for how the United States and other market economies should respond. One area of consensus throughout this edited volume, however, is that the CCP wields expanding de facto and de jure power over nearly all areas of political and economic activity in China. It is this feature of China’s state capitalist system—the expansive and expanding role of the CCP—that poses the most significant challenges not only in how the workings and structure of China’s economy are understood, but also in how market economies can and should respond. This volume does not conclusively resolve this critical dilemma, but the authors hope that it can help further a much-needed discussion with careful and considered analysis.

This report is made possible by the generous support of the Semiconductor Industry Association and general support to CSIS.

Scott Kennedy
Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics