Contesting Chinese Capitalism

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
Andreas MØLLER MULVAD , Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen K, Denmark
Contesting Chinese Capitalism

As the developmentalist goal of catching-up with the West is gradually achieved, will China’s political economy begin to gradually converge on an Anglo-Saxon (neo)liberal variety of capitalism? Or, in contrast, will the ‘China Model’ of combining a capitalist market economy with a Leninist Party-state continue to prosper in coming decades?

This article argues that to understand the prospects for the future of Chinese capitalism, we need a deeper understanding of the impact of public intellectuals, academics and think tanks in the ongoing ideational battle to define China’s national development strategy in the 21st century.

Based on analysis of original empirical data – in the form of interviews with 24 highly influential Chinese public intellectuals  – this article contributes a typology of four different ‘hegemonic visions’ for China’s future:

First, the ‘neoliberal’ vision which proposes to further liberalize China’s economy, and reduce state ownership, whilst retaining the current authoritarian political system. Second, the ‘authoritarian socialist’ vision which also eschews parliamentary democracy, but insists on state-led capitalism as the key funding mechanism for building a paternalist welfare-state from above. Third, the ‘liberal democrat’ vision which combines a faith in markets and a distaste for state ownership with a call for parliamentary democracy. Fourth, the ‘democratic socialist’ vision which sets as its goal a political-economic model which is based on both egalitarianism and constitutionalism.

It is concluded that all of the four visions enjoy sufficient support among different social classes and interest groups to stand a realistic chance of becoming dominant in shaping Chinese capitalism over the next decades: While the two first visions describe a current split within the Party-state elite, the two latter visions represent two different political-ideological shapes for a potential counter-hegemonic social movement from below.