The State as Owner -- China's Experience

28 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2019 Last revised: 27 Jan 2020

See all articles by Curtis J. Milhaupt

Curtis J. Milhaupt

Stanford Law School; European Corporate Governance Institute

Date Written: December 9, 2019


This essay explores China’s experience with state ownership of business enterprise. After a short historical survey of the rise, fall, and re-emergence of the state-owned enterprise (SOE) as a form of business organization, the essay describes the creation, ownership structure, and role of SOEs under Chinese state capitalism. It further discusses the government’s ongoing efforts to reform its SOEs. These efforts are illuminating because they highlight the serious tension inherent in the party-state’s dual goals of maintaining SOEs as a tool for advancing non-financial social and industrial policy goals, and addressing the corporate governance challenges of these enterprises. The essay concludes by examining implications from the preceding analysis – for China’s domestic economy, for policy makers outside China, and for the corporate form itself.

Keywords: Corporate Governance, State Capitalism, State-Owned Enterprise

JEL Classification: G3, P1

Suggested Citation

Milhaupt, Curtis J., The State as Owner -- China's Experience (December 9, 2019). Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 36(2) (Summer 2020), European Corporate Governance Institute - Law Working Paper No. 487/2019, Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 543, Available at SSRN:

Curtis J. Milhaupt (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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