Privatisation and Politics in Rural China

  • Daniel Kelliher
Part of the Studies on the Chinese Economy book series (STCE)


At the end of the 1970s Deng Xiaoping put together a coalition of economists and officials who shared a painful realisation: state control over the rural economy had grown so pervasive and intrusive that it was stifling development. These reformers decided that the ministries, planning commissions, county officials, procurement agents, and local cadres of the far-flung state apparatus had made Chinese agriculture stagnate. Farmers left to their own devices, they believed, could do better. In fits and starts, the reform coalition began granting significant economic powers to private rural citizens. Perhaps unconsciously, the reformers gradually improvised a programme that relied on the classic prescriptions of privatisation. They cut the powers of unwieldy administrative organs (the communes). They put primary resources (the land) into private hands (family farms). They leased or sold off public enterprises (commune and brigade operations) to private investors. They turned management over to the immediate producers (peasant entrepreneurs and farmers), and expanded the market’s scope for allocating goods, labour and income.


Land Tenure Chinese Communist Party Family Farm Land Rent Surplus Labour 
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© Gordon White 1991

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  • Daniel Kelliher

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