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15 The "State of the State" "state-socialist corporatism, "II "Confucian Leninisnl,"13
15 The "State of the State"
corporatism, "II

Like nature, Sinology abhors a vacuum. Given variety and magnitude of systemic changes tha curred in the post-Mao era, it is hardly surpr there should be substantial controversy over h characterize China's evolving institutional l With Leninist regimes everywhere collapsing or ing radical reconfiguration, a profound "para has arisen. Does the reforming Chinese politica more closely resemble communism, capitalism,

cianism? feudalism, federalism, or neo-fascism tism or civil society?

Bereft of a theoretical compass, with no re otl'the-sheJf models available to fill the void l demise of the old Leninist order, more and mor have entered the paradigm sweepstakes. The resu a wild profusion of new labels, accompanied competition for shelf space in the morphologic place. Recent comenders for taxonomic heg

clude: "nomenclature capitalism,"1 "bureaucrat

ism,"2 "capitalism with Chinese characteristics,"

socialism,"4 "incomplete state socialism, "5 "loc

socialis01, "6 "danwei socialism, '''7 "socialist corp

"corporatism Chinese style,"" "local state corpo









and "bureauprenellrialism. ,," In a field not normally known for its fertile heuristic imagination, this profusion of colorful labels and neologisnls seeins rather remarkable. To a considerable extent, the current state of taxonomic anarchy stems from three inescapable facts of reform. First, the "de-totaliza- tion" of the Leninist state is without historical precedent. Second, China's reforming institutional landscape is complex and polymor- phous, rendering al.lempts broadly to elassify emergent forms and functions hazardous at best. And third, the institutional landscape is itself in a state of flux, presenting observers with a continuously moving target. In some ways the problem is redolent of the parable of the blind men and the elephant: analysts probing different parts of China', reforming political anatomy often produce substantially dissimilar sketches of the body politic. Even in cases where the same (or similar) part of the elephant's anatomy has been touched, there are often significant differences of interpretation. Further compounding this difficulty is the absence of a standardized conceptual vocabulary. , This chapter represents a preliminary effort to describe China's ') elephant at this stage of the reforms. It seeks to make sense oti China's sbifting political-economic landscape and to establish a COrb t text for a"essing the disparate analytical perspectives and empirical "\ findings that appear in the literature generally and in the essays in this volume in particular. After reviewing some of the more promi- . nent academic disputes concerning the impact of reform on key •. structures of power and authority in the PRC, the chapter explores various patterns of post-reform accommodation between state and i society. It then considers aggregate changes in state capacity, coo-" eluding with an overall assessmen t of the "state of the Slate" in th~ft. post-reform era.

"state of the Slate" in th~ft. post-reform era. , '< f . Of Principals and Agents





Of Principals and Agents

Gmtml-Local Relations

One of the morc intractable controversies in the recent literal concerns central-local relations. While virtually everyone agrees

cial and subprovincial governments broad discretionary a

raise and allocate revenues, major differences remain ove

independent of their higher-level "principals" these erst "agents" have actually become. At one extreme, it has be that the reforms have so skewed the balance of fiscal an Irdtive power in favor of the provinces that Beijing has lo control over much of the country's economic life. IS At the other extrt,me, it has been argued wit.h equal decent.ralization has neither diminished Beijing's extractiv (expressed as the ratio of central government revenues to undermined China's unitary political system (measured gree of central control over key provincial appointment.s) interpretation holds that "cenu'al leaders have not so m control as they have chosen not to exercise it because

officials are a powerful bloc in the process of selecting to nist Party leaders. "20 Yet. a fourth view holds t.hat the enti cent.er versus province has been improperly framed, sinc not a zero-sum game; and (b) "it is quite crude to use, .

rary drop in the center's share of resources

as the in

the relative power of center vs. localities. "21 The theory of rising provincial autonomy and incipient ness achieved a certain prominence at the end of the 198 group of provincial governors, led by Guangdong's Ye successfully resisted the central government's repeated a replace the existing system of contractually fixed provin tances with a system of uniform direct taxes, a change t

have tilted the fiscal balance sharply in Beijing's favor. 22 in this period that local governments in many areas, l prospect of fiscal starvation induced by Beijing's austerit 1988, ignored central exhortations to curtail expansio

credit, investment, and construction, while at the same tim

a series of protective trade barriers against product.s fr

areas." As a result of such local defiance there were w references in the Chinese media to the rise of "feudal ,tconomies" (%huhou jingji) as well as a spate of oblique-a

. es not so oblique-warnings of a possible economic b

.e coun try. 2'1