DP1838 From Federalism, Chinese Style, to Privatization, Chinese Style

Author(s): Cao Yuanzheng, Yingyi Qian, Barry Weingast
Publication Date: March 1998
Keyword(s): China, Federalism, local governments, Privatization, Restructuring
JEL(s): H3, P2, P5
Programme Areas: Transition Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=1838

In 1994, China began a profound reform of its state-owned enterprises (SOE). We first describe and characterize this progress in two areas: privatization of small state-owned enterprises (SOEs) at the county level and mass lay-offs of excess state workers at the city level. Local governments have initiated these reforms, which are proceeding in economically and politically sensible ways. We then argue that privatization, Chinese style, rests on an adequate economic and political foundation ? federalism, Chinese style. We suggest a range of incentives that propel local governments toward SOE reform, including their harder budget constraints and increased competition from the non-state sector. In this sense, Chinese style federalism, has induced Chinese style privatization.