China in the Contemporary
International Political Economy
The major conclusion of this book is that the international environment most propitious for the reform, restructuring, and rationalization of Chinese industries during the 1980s and early 1990s was one marked by moderate economic closure rather than the ideal-typic economic openness assumed by most observers. While this finding must be asserted tentatively given the limited number of cases examined here, evidence from the textile and shipbuilding industries indicates a need for further investigation into the impact of “free trade” and “managed trade” environments on change at the industrial level. Specifically, this book argues that the MFA in textiles and GSC in shipbuilding accelerated, rather than retarded, industrial transformation and export success. By contrast, the same type and degree of change was less pronounced when the world market was characterized by greater economic openness. For example, the silk sector of China's textile industry — one not subject to quotas until 1994 — lagged noticeably behind other sectors by every measure of industrial restructuring, including export upgrading, product diversification, and technological modernization. For their part, economic reform and industrial rationalization were also comparatively slow in the silk sector.
The remainder of this section provides a brief exploration of broader issues related to this central research finding. First, the discussion expands the empirical focus beyond textiles and shipbuilding to light industries such as toys, footwear, sporting goods, and household appliances. Second, it examines the durability and generalizability of its research findings. Finally, it identifies areas for future study, including additional research projects that will be necessary if the investigation