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.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
“‘Normal’: The Word Of The Year (In A Year That Was Anything But)”, http://www.npr.org/2016/12/22/506451640/normal-the-word-of-the-year-in-a-year-that-was-anything-but; accessed January 18, 2017.
The most complete statement is “Urban Private Business and China’s Reforms,” in Deborah Davis and Ezra Vogel, eds., (1990) Chinese Society on the Eve of Tiananmen: The Impact of Reform. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), pp. 84–103. I draw on it for this chapter.
This is taken from Zhang . Zhang was also interviewed by National Public Radio on March 17, 2010 (“China’s Capital of Capitalism Weathers Recession” http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=124740579, accessed February 18, 2017.
Additionally, SASS itself, as a state unit, needed to find ways to increase its finances, so in the evenings it turned its canteen into a disco open to the public, flashing Christmas lights and all.
The other two are advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the majority. In other words, a complete abandonment of class struggle, the most basic motive force in history according to Marx. This evolved into the emphasis on “harmonious society” by Jiang’s successor, Hu Jintao.
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 .
For 1978 and 1988, see Gold op. cit. (1990), p. 90. For later years, see Zhongguo qiye nianjian 2015 (China Enterprise Yearbook 2015). (Beijing: Qiye guanli chubanshe), p. 155.
Anderlini . There were no billionaires in the U.S. House or Senate at the time.
Forsythe . One of those expelled, construction magnate Wang Wenliang, was a U.S. permanent resident and major donor to American universities, charities and political campaigns.
I agree with Ang ‘s emphasis on the “coevolution” of the state and market. To some degree, this can be related to Polanyi ’s discussion of the role of the state in creating a market economy.
Zhong Minyuan, “Getihu zaoyu ‘zhiduxing lengmo’”, (Getihu encounter systematic coldness), Nanfengchuang, May 18–31, 2011, pp. 53–55; Xie .
Yorkey, Brian. 2009. Next to Normal (original Broadway cast recording).
Foucault, Michel. 1995. Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage.
Foucault, Michel. 1990. History of sexuality, volume 1: An introduction. New York: Vintage.
Lukes, Steven. 1974. Power: A radical view. London: MacMillan.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. The forms of capital. In Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education, ed. John G. Richardson, 241–158. New York: Greenwood.
Bourdieu, Pierre, and Loic Wacquant. 1992. An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Fligstein, Neil, and Doug McAdam. 2012. A theory of fields. New York: Oxford University Press.
Zhang, Yiqian. 2016. First registered private business owner reflects on the changing times. Global Times. www.globaltimes.cn/content/1022619.shtml. Accessed 18 March 2017.
Hershkovitz, Linda. 1985. The fruits of ambivalence: China’s urban individual economy. Pacific Affairs, 58(3), fall, pp. 427–450.
Chen, Zongshi. 2015. Revival, legitimization, and development of private Enterprises in China: Empowering state capitalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lardy, Nicholas R. 2014. Markets over Mao: The rise of private business in China. Washington: Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Lin, Yi-min. 2017. Dancing with the devil: The political economy of privatization in China. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nee, Victor, and Sonja Opper. 2012. Capitalism from below: Markets and institutional change in China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Pei, Minxin. 2016. China’s crony capitalism: The dynamics of regime decay. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Gold, Thomas, William J. Hurst, Jaeyoun Won, and Li Qiang, eds. 2009. Laid-off workers in a workers’ state: Unemployment with Chinese characteristics. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Schuman, Michael. 2016. Venture communism: How China is building a start-up boom. New York: New York Times, September 4.
Li, Cindy (2016). The changing face of shadow banking in China. San Francisco: Federal Reserve of San Francisco, December.
Gold, Thomas B. 2015. Microfinance and the China dream. In China dreams: China’s new leadership and future impacts, ed. Chih-Shian Liou and Arthur S. Ding, 223–242. Singapore: World Scientific.
Barboza, David. 2012. Billions in hidden riches for family of Chinese leader. New York: New York Times, October 25.
Mozur, Paul and Michael Forsythe. 2017. China extends crackdown. New York: New York Times, February 14.
Anderlini, Jamil. 2017. Chinese parliament holds 83 billionaires. https://www.Ft.com/content/4568598e-8731-11e2-9dd7-00144feabdc0. (Financial Times, March 8, 2013); Accessed 16 March 2017.
Forsythe, Michael. 2016. China expels 45 legislators over fraud in election. New York: New York Times.
Osburg, John. 2013. Anxious wealth: Money and morality among China’s new rich. Stanford: Stanford University Press, September 15.
Uretsky, Elanah. 2016. Occupational hazard: Sex, business, and HIV in post-Mao China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Ang, Yuen Yuen. 2016. How China escaped the poverty trap. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Polanyi, Karl. 1957. The Great transformation: The political and economic origins of our time. Boston: Beacon Press.
Xie, Liangbin. 2016. Where are Beijing’s Getihu going? (The Economic Observer, issue 609, March 4, 2013. http://www.eeo.com.cn/ens/2013/0308/240879.shtml. Accessed 31 Oct 2016.
Vogel, Ezra F. 2011. Deng Xiaoping and the transformation of China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
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.
About this article
Cite this article
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
- Economic field
- Primary stage of socialism