Basic-Level Local Government and Economic Reform in Urban China

  • Gordon White
Part of the Studies on the Chinese Economy book series (STCE)


The central focus of this paper is on the relationship between China’s market-oriented economic reforms and the changing role of urban local government. One would expect that the radical changes envisaged in the operation of the economy would have major implications for government in general and for local government in particular especially so in a country the size of China where ‘local’ governments often oversee communities larger than most national governments elsewhere. How have the economic reformers perceived the links between changes in the economic and governmental system in China’s cities and what changes have taken place in the role and structure of urban local government during the era of post-Mao economic reform since 1978?1


Local Government District Level Economic Reform Urban District City Level 
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  1. 5.
    The results of these symposia have been published in book form, see Lu et al, 1985 and Local Government Research, 1986.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    For a text, see BBC, Summary of World Broadcasts: Far East (hereafter SWB) 8663.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    For the Chinese text of the State Constitutions, see Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) (hereafter RMRB), 5 December 1982; for an English textGoogle Scholar
  4. Beijing Review vol. 25 no. 52 (27 December 1982)Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    For more detail on the 1980 reform see the report by Heilongjiang Radio on 17 January 1980, Jilin Radio on 14 March 1980 (in SWB 6380), Guangdong Radio 22 May 1980, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (hereafter FBIS) p. 110, New China News Agency (hereafter NCNA) (Chinese) 20 September 1980 re Anhui (in SWB W1112).Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    For an analysis of the need for a new system of revenue-sharing, see Wang Bingqian, ‘Certain questions in financial work’, RMRB, 26 November 1982 (in FBIS 229).Google Scholar
  7. For a more academic review of the issue, see Cai Xun, ‘Reforming and improving the socialist financial system …’,Guangming Ribao 29 May 1983 (in FBIS 116).Google Scholar
  8. Also see ‘It is imperative to centralise financial and material resources’, NCNA (Chinese), 4 July 1983 (in FBIS 131) andGoogle Scholar
  9. ‘Ten manifestations of excessive decentralisation of capital’, Beijing Wen Zhai Bao (Beijing Digest News) no. 98, 19 August 1983 (in FBIS 171)Google Scholar
  10. For the new system in operation, see Jilin Radio 10 January 1985 (SWB 7859) and Heilongjiang Radio 19. June 1985 (in SWB 7984).Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    ‘Non-productive’ investment involves, to a large extent, ‘construction which meet the material and cultural life of people’ and includes public utilities, public health, social welfare, education, culture and residential housing. For a full definition, see State Statistical Burea 1986, p. 750.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    For an overview of attempts at administrative reform during the reform era, see my ‘Administrative reforms in post-Mao China’, IDS Bulletin, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, vol. 19, no. 4 (Oct. 1988), pp. 12–18.Google Scholar

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© Gordon White 1991

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  • Gordon White

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