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Normalizing Private Business in China


Private business is among the many things that comprise the “new normal” in Xi Jinping’s China. Given the Communist Party’s socialist transformation of the private sector in the 1950s and its concerted suppression of “tails of capitalism” over the next 20 years, it was surprising that it began to legitimize private business in 1978. It did this to address a number of pressing social and economic problems. After a slow start, micro enterprises began to increase in numbers and scale, and the party passed several amendments to the state constitution and revised its ideological stance to make private business a normal and legitimate component of the economic field, and to recruit private entrepreneurs into the party. Nonetheless, the “new” normal continues to evolve and China’s new capitalists walk a vague line between acceptance and vulnerability.

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    Although technically getihu, they are referred to as chuangyezhe, more like “innovators.” And the state continues to simplify registration processes to get them up and running. (“Guanyu chuangyezhu, getihu, yangqi…jintiande guowuyuan changweihui dingle zhexie dashi” (Concerning innovators, household enterprises, central enterprises…today the State Council Standing Committee decided these big issues), http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2016-05/18/content_5074545.htm, accessed March 16, 2017. Hangzhou is another hotbed of innovation startups: Schuman [16].

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    Forsythe [22]. One of those expelled, construction magnate Wang Wenliang, was a U.S. permanent resident and major donor to American universities, charities and political campaigns.

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    See two recent monographs on this: Osburg [23] and Uretsky [24].

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I want to thank Christopher Hou Jue for research assistance and suggestions, participants at the Duisburg-Essen conference, and colleagues at City University of Hong Kong and University of Hong Kong where versions of this chapter were presented.

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Correspondence to Thomas B. Gold.

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Gold, T.B. Normalizing Private Business in China. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 22, 461–472 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11366-017-9509-4

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  • Normalization
  • Economic field
  • Getihu
  • Legitimization
  • Primary stage of socialism