Transforming Rural China: How Local Institutions Shape Property Rights in Rural China

By Chih-Jou Jay Chen | Go to book overview
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7

Conclusion

Local institutions and the future of China

Lin Wei, the former seaweed salesman and business entrepreneur, is today a government official. He serves as the Hancun village party secretary in charge of all village affairs and bureaucratic procedures. He rides his 125cc motor scooter around the village, blue rubber flip-flops hanging over the edge, eyes squinting into the sun and wind. "Fuck your mother, I spend too much time dealing with village affairs!" he complains. "But my appointment as village party secretary has reduced internal factional rivalries in our village. The younger generations all listen to my words. Fuck your mother! Without me, the village would turn into a chaos."

Huang Wen, the former Red Army foot soldier and Shuang village party secretary, is today the owner and CEO of the color master batch factory. It is a business he built up himself under the role of government official before relinquishing his bureaucratic post to take full control of the company under the privatization scheme. The irony is that just as a popular private entrepreneur like Lin Wei was really the only one in Hancun who could become the party secretary, a former village party secretary was the only one who could become the owner and entrepreneur of the private companies in Shuang.

Local institutions, by constraining and promoting certain economic organizational features (i.e., property rights arrangements) have made such a phenomenon possible. In two prosperous yet disparately diverse regions of rural China, anomalous economic and social developments have occurred. The focus of this study has mapped the distinctive regional strategies of business and management in each region, charted the diverse paths which have led away from state socialism, examined regional differences in the network patterns of entrepreneurial activities, and explored how different local institutional configurations have promoted or impeded local authority and entrepreneurs in the pursuit of economic development.

The dramatic differences in the nature of property rights arrangements between the lower Yangtze Delta region and southern Fujian give all indication that the organizational features of rural enterprises, characterized by their distinctive configurations of property rights, cannot be reduced to

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