Dictator’s Growth Curse and China’s Trade Politics

  • Hans H. TungEmail author
Part of the Politics and Development of Contemporary China book series (PDCC)


This chapter makes a case for making China’s trade policymaking during the late Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao eras a critical case for examining how economic growth drives a wedge between the dictator and the elite. The case selection is justified not only by the fact that international trade had been one of the main engines of growth for the Chinese economy, but also by the political nature of China’s trade policymaking process during both periods. Under China’s authoritarian institutions, sector-based bureaucrats made choices between rents and promotion according to the dictator’s commitment ability, and the choices reflected the level of the centrifugal effect across different sectors and the feasibility of the dictator’s divide-and-rule strategy.


  1. Bhagwati, Jagdish. 1982. Directly-Unproductive, Profit-Seeking (DUP) Activities. Journal of Political Economy 90: 988–1002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boix, Carles, and Milan W. Svolik. 2013. The Foundations of Limited Authoritarian Government: Institutions, Commitment, and Power-Sharing in Dictatorships. Journal of Politics 75 (2): 300–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brock, William A., and Stephen P. Magee. 1978. The Economics of Special Interest Politics: The Case of the Tariff. American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 68: 246–250.Google Scholar
  4. Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, Alastair Smith, Randolph M. Siverson, and James D. Morrow. 2003. The Logic of Political Survival. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Caves, Richard E. 1976. Economic Models of Political Choice: Canada’s Tariff Structure. Canadian Journal of Economics 9 (2): 278–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, Baizhu, and Yi Feng. 2000. Openness and Trade Policy in China: An Industrial Analysis. China Economic Review 11 (3): 323–341.Google Scholar
  7. Dixit, Avinash K. 2010. Democracy, Autocracy, and Bureaucracy. Journal of Globalization and Development 1 (1): 1–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Grossman, Gene M., and Elhanan Helpman. 2001. Special Interest Politics. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  9. Heilmann, Sebastian. 2008. Policy Experimentation in China’s Economic Rise. Studies in Comparative International Development 43 (1): 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Huang, Yasheng. 2002. Between Two Coordination Failures: Automotive Industrial Policy in China with a Comparison to Korea. Review of International Political Economy 9 (3): 538–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Huang, Jingbo. 2003. The Reform of China’s Foreign Trade Policy [Zhongguo Duewai Maoyi Zhengce Gaige]. Guangzhou: Guangdong People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar
  12. Li, Chunding. 2009. “Adjustments of China’s Development Strategy of Foreign Trade and Policy Choices” Lessons from the New-New Trade Theory [Zhongguo Waimao Fazhan Zhanlue Tiaozheng yu Zhengce Xuanze – Laizi Xin-Xin Maoyi Lilun de Qishi]. Cotemporary Economic Research [Dangdai Jingji Yanjiu] 8: 47–51.Google Scholar
  13. Lin, Justin Yifu, Fang Cai, and Zhou Li. 2002. The China Miracle: Development Strategy and Economic Reform [Zhongguo de Qiji: Fazhan Zhanlue yu Jingji Gaige]. Shanghai: Shanghai Renmin Press.Google Scholar
  14. Mueller, Dennis C. 2003. Public Choice III. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pincus, J.J. 1975. Pressure Groups and the Pattern of Tariffs. Journal of Political Economy 83 (4): 757–778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sheng, Bin. 2002. The Political Economy of China’s Foreign Trade Policy [Zhongguo Duiwai Maoyi Zhengce de Zhengzhi Jingji Fenxi]. Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar
  17. Shirk, Susan L. 1993. The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 2007. China: Fragile Superpower: How China’s Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Stigler, George J. 1974. Free Riders and Collective Action: An Appendix to Theories of Economic Regulation. Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science 5 (2): 359–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Tsai, L. Lily. 2009. Solidary Groups, Informal Accountability, and Local Public Goods Provision in Rural China. American Political Science Review 101 (2): 355–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wintrobe, Ronald. 1998. The Political Economy of Dictatorship. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. ———. 2001. How to Understand, and Deal with Dictatorship: An Economist’s View. Economics of Governance 2 (1): 35–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science/Center for Research in Econometric Theory and ApplicationsNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

Personalised recommendations