Law, Wealth and Power in China
THE COMMERCIAL LAW REVOLUTION, John Garret, Yingjie Guo, eds., Routledge, 2010
22 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2010
Date Written: September 6, 2010
This concluding chapter addresses two central sets of issues regarding law, wealth and power in China. The first set concerns the relationship between law and wealth, or law and development, as the field is more commonly known. What light does the volume shed on the hotly contested chicken-and-egg question of whether proper laws and institutions cause growth or growth strengthens institutions and leads to better laws? Assuming laws and institutions are important for growth, which laws and institutions? What factors have shaped or influenced the development process so far? Longer term, can we expect more convergence or divergence – will market reforms and efforts aimed at more fully implementing rule of law continue, or will the reform process be reversed or stall? Will China ultimately produce a reasonably stable, unique variety of capitalism and indigenous variant of rule of law?
The second set of issues focuses on the law-wealth-power nexus. That such a nexus exists is hardly news, or unique to China. Nevertheless, the accumulation of wealth has been extremely rapid in China, and occurred in a context of significant state ownership and regulation of the market. Moreover, while opportunities for participation in the policymaking process have increased, the political system as a whole remains authoritarian and dominated by the Chinese Communist Party. Who then has benefited from reforms and who has suffered? More specifically, how has the accumulation of wealth impacted the policymaking process and the operation of the legal and political systems? To what extent has China suffered from problems of crony capitalism? Are we witnessing the emergence of an authoritarian version of political capitalism similar to the type that has undermined political and legal reforms in the newly established Eastern European democracies?
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By Xin He