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Socialist market economy

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Title: Socialist market economy  
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Subject: Communist Party of China, Socialist economics, Economy of China, Socialism, Socialist-oriented market economy
Collection: Economic Systems, Economy of China, Mixed Economies, Political Economy, Socialism
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Socialist market economy

Socialist market economy
Simplified Chinese 社会主义市场经济
Traditional Chinese 社會主義市場經濟

The socialist market economy is the economic model employed by the People's Republic of China. It is based on the dominance of the state-owned sector and an open-market economy, and has its origins in the Chinese economic reforms introduced under Deng Xiaoping. The ideological rationale is that China is in the primary stage of socialism, an early stage within the socialist mode of production, and therefore has to adapt capitalist techniques to thrive. Despite this, the system has widely been cited as a form of state capitalism.[1][2]


  • Description 1
    • Analysis 1.1
    • The state sector 1.2
    • Enterprise forms 1.3
  • History 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


After the Great Leap Forward (1958–1961) and the ousting of the Gang of Four from power, Chairman Deng Xiaoping was willing to consider market-based methods of economic growth so as to revitalise China's economy and find an economic system compatible with China's specific conditions. However, in doing so, he remained committed to the centralized control and the one-party state central to Leninism.

The socialist market economy was a concept first proposed by Deng Xiaoping in order to incorporate the market into the planned economy in the People's Republic of China, and later, to the Đổi Mới in Vietnam.[3] Following its implementation, this economic system has supplemented the centrally planned economy in the People's Republic of China, with high growth rates in GDP during the past decades having been attributed to it. Within this model, privately owned enterprises have become a major component of the economic system alongside the central state-owned enterprises and collective / township village enterprises.

There are some similarities to Western mixed economies, with some fundamental differences. The fundamental distinction between the Chinese and Western mixed-market economy models lies less in the implementation of the mixed economic model but rather in the degree of state-ownership and underlying authoritarian political philosophy, which eschews Western notions of democracy, individual rights, and the rule of law.[4]

This type of economic system is defended from a Stalinist perspective which states that a fully developed socialist planned economy can only come into existence after first establishing the necessary and comprehensive commodity market economy and letting it fully develop until it exhausts its historical stage and gradually transforms itself into a planned economy (the Stalinist Two-Stage theory of revolution). Proponents of this economic model distinguish it from Market socialism: Market socialists believe that economic planning is unattainable, undesirable or ineffective, and thus view the market as an integral part of socialism, whereas proponents of the socialist market economy view markets as a temporary phase in development of a fully planned economy.[5]


Despite the official designation of "socialism", analysts often describe the Chinese economy as a form of state capitalism.

One analysis carried out by the Global Studies Association at the

  1. ^ "The rise of state capitalism". The Economist. 21 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Bremmer, Ian (2009). "State Capitalism Comes of Age". Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations). 
  3. ^ Vuong, Quan Hoang (2010) Financial Markets in Vietnam's Transition Economy: Facts, Insights, Implications. ISBN 978-3-639-23383-4, VDM Verlag, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.
  4. ^ Yu, Verna (7 September 2010) "Shenzhen speeches show divide on 'political reform'", South China Morning Post
  5. ^ Market Economy and Socialist Road Duan Zhongqiao
  6. ^ China: Market socialism or capitalism?
  7. ^ Market Socialism or Capitalism? Evidence from Chinese Financial Market Development, by Julan Du and Chenggang Xu. 2005. IEA 2005 Round Table on Market and Socialism.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ By: C.J. Atkins. "The Leninist Heritage of the Socialist Market Economy". Political Affairs. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  11. ^ Hederman, Rea. "10 China Myths for the New Decade | The Heritage Foundation". Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  12. ^ "China names key industries for absolute state control". China Daily. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  13. ^ Hederman, Rea. "Liberalization in Reverse | The Heritage Foundation". Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  14. ^ "The Role of Planning in China's Market Economy" (PDF). Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "Reassessing China's State-Owned Enterprises". Forbes. 8 July 2008. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "InfoViewer: China's champions: Why state ownership is no longer proving a dead hand". 28 August 2003. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Ramzy, Austin (9 April 2009). "China's New Healthcare Could Cover Millions More". TIME. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  19. ^ "Business | China grows faster amid worries". BBC News. 16 July 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  20. ^ Chinese companies shore up government ties to survive
  21. ^ Hearing on Chinese State-Owned and State-Controlled Enterprises
  22. ^ China has socialist market economy in place (People's Daily Online, 2005).
  23. ^ "Reform of China's State-owned Enterprises A Progress Report of Oxford Analytica". Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  24. ^ Scissors, Derek, Liberalization in reverse, (2009)


See also

The private sector's share of the GDP rose from less than 1% in 1978 to 70% by 2005, a figure that is still increasing. Due to the poor performance of traditional state enterprises in the market economy, China embarked on a massive restructuring program of [23] Recently the Conservative Hu-Wen Administration rolled back many of Deng's reforms, leaving observers dubbing 2008 the "third anniversary of the end of reform.[24]

The transition to a socialist market economy began in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping introduced his program of "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". Initial reforms in decollectivising agriculture and allowing private businesses and foreign investment in the late 1970s and early 1980s later led to large-scale radical reforms, consisting of partial privatisation of the state sector, liberalisation of trade and prices, and dismantling of the "iron rice bowl" system of job security in the late 1990s. Since the beginning of Deng Xiaoping's reforms, China's GDP rose from some 150 billion USD to more than 1.6 trillion USD, with an annual increase of 9.4 percent.[22]


  • Urban Collectives
  • Township-Village Enterprise
  • Privately owned enterprise: This category includes private limited liability corporations, private share‐holding corporations, private partnership enterprises and private sole investment enterprises.
  • State-holding enterprise: State-holding, or state-controlled enterprises, are publicly listed firms where the state owns a large share or a controlling share within the firms, thereby exerting influence on the management of the firm. These include firms that receive foreign direct investment.
  • State-owned enterprise: Commercial enterprises established by either the central government or a local government, where managers are appointed by the government or public bodies. This category only includes wholly state-funded and managed firms. Most state-owned enterprises are not entities of the central government. Central government state-owned enterprises are subunits of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).[21]

The socialist market economy consists of a wide range of state enterprises and mixed-enterprises. Following the 1978 reforms, most state enterprises were reorganized into Western-style corporations and joint-stock companies, with the government retaining control through owning controlling shares in these corporations.

Enterprise forms

By 2008, these state-owned corporations have become increasingly dynamic largely contributing to the increase in revenue for the state.[16][17] By 2009 the government considered a state insurance scheme to expand healthcare coverage.[18] The state-sector led the economic recovery process and increased economic growth in 2009 after the financial crises, partially because most of the Chinese stimulus package was directed towards these state-owned firms.[19] The state-sector make out 40 to 50 percent of China's GDP.[20]

The state sector is concentrated in the 'commanding heights' of the economy with a growing private sector engaged primarily in commodity production and light industry. Centralized directive planning based on mandatory output requirements and production quotas has been superseded by the free-market mechanism for most of the economy and directive planning in large state industries.[14] A major difference from the old planned economy is the restructuring of state companies along a commercial basis, with the exception of 150 large state-owned enterprises that remain and report directly to the central government, most having a number of subsidiaries.[15]

By 2005 the market-oriented reforms, including privatisation, were virtually halted and partially reversed.[11] In 2006, the Chinese government announced that the armaments, power generation and distribution, oil and petrochemicals, telecommunications, coal, aviation and shipping industries had to remain under "absolute state control" and public ownership by law.[12] The state retains indirect control in directing the non-state economy through the financial system, which lends according to state priorities. Liberalization continues to be rolled back in the state-sector by the consolidation of state enterprises into large "national champions" with the goal of consolidating efforts and creating internationally competitive national industries.[13]

The state sector

Public ownership, as the foundation of the socialist economic system, is a basic force of the state to guide and promote economic and social development and a major guarantee for realising the fundamental interests and the common prosperity of the majority of the people… The state owned economy has taken a dominant place in major trades that have a close bearing on the country’s economic lifeline and key areas, and has propped-up, guided and brought along the development of the entire socio-economy. The influence and control capacity of SOEs have further increased. State owned economy has played an irreplaceable role in China’s socialist modernisation drive.

Proponents of the socialist market economy compare it to the New Economic Policy in Soviet Russia that introduced market-oriented reforms while maintaining state-ownership of the 'commanding heights' of the economy. The reforms are justified through the belief that changing conditions necessitate new strategies for socialist development.[10] According to Li Rongrong in 2003, chairman of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council,

Other Marxist analyses point out that the current Chinese system contains capitalist commodity relations in production, dis-empowers the working class, and has contributed to a sharp increase in social inequality while growing the size and political power of a small capitalist class.[8] Classical Marxists believe a "socialist commodity economy" (or a "socialist market economy") is contradictory. Other socialists believe the Chinese have embraced many elements of market capitalism, specifically commodity production and privatization, resulting in a full-blown capitalist economic system.[9] Although many enterprises are nominally publicly owned, the profits are retained by the enterprises and used to pay managers excessively high salaries rather than being distributed amongst the population.

Analysis of the "Chinese model" by the economists Julan Du and Chenggang Xu finds that the contemporary economic system of the People's Republic of China represents a state capitalist system as opposed to a market socialist system. The reason for this categorization is that financial markets exist in the Chinese economic system, which are absent in classic models of market socialism and in the market socialist literature; and that state profits are retained by enterprises rather than being equitably distributed among the population in a social dividend or similar scheme (which are central features in most models of market socialism). They conclude that China is neither a form of market socialism nor a stable form of capitalism.[7]


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