Remade in China: Foreign Investors and Institutional Change in China

Remade in China: Foreign Investors and Institutional Change in China

Remade in China: Foreign Investors and Institutional Change in China

Remade in China: Foreign Investors and Institutional Change in China


Since opening to foreign investment in 1979, China has emerged as the leading investment site for multinational corporations. Remade in China looks beyond the macroeconomic effects of China's investment boom to analyze how foreign investors from the US, Japan, and other nations are shaping China's legal, labor, and business reforms. Wilson draws on interviews with nearly 100 foreign and local managers, attorneys, workers, and members of the business community to explain why Chinese laborers and firms have gravitated toward foreign models, especially US businesses and their institutions.

Wilson uses the term "state-guided globalization" to describe how China has used foreign engagement to advance its domestic reform objectives and to enhance its role in international society. Rather than undermining state power, globalization actually has allowed China's state to push through difficult labor and legal reforms. Wilson concludes that Chinese policy makers drew lessons from foreign investors and foreign legal experts on how to introduce difficult labor market reforms in its state-owned enterprises and how to promote rule of law.

Remade in China examines globalization and foreign investment in a different light, showing how these developments have helped to chart China's entry into international society. China's WTO accession agreement and international norms have established parameters by which to judge Chinese legal and business reforms. Although China's rise is a grave concern to the world, Remade in China asserts that Chinese leaders now see compliance with international rules as a means to secure more investment and to enhance their international legitimacy. Wilson provides a lucid and insightful analysis of how foreign and domestic actors, from political leaders to average laborers, have contributed to remaking China's institutions.


China’s opening to foreign investment, trade, and culture generated consternation among Chinese leaders and citizens. When China opened its doors to foreigners in 1979, many Chinese citizens and leaders expressed concern about a return to foreign domination over China. a common analogy offered up by critics of the policy was China’s futile efforts to resist imperialism during the Opium Wars (1839–1842 and 1856–1860) and the subsequent concessions to open China’s ports to foreigners. China, a very poor country at that time, was carved up by imperialists, causing a steep decline of social, economic, and political standards. in 1981, just two years after China opened up to foreign investment and trade, Renmin Ribao, China’s leading state-run newspaper, ran an article that addressed the role of Lin Zexu, the Chinese general who, in 1839, led a group of Chinese to destroy a shipment of British opium by dumping the drug into ponds mixed with lime and salt—an act akin to the Boston Tea Party—igniting the First Opium War against British imperialism. According to the article, China should view General Lin as a hero for leading the fight against the British and, more importantly, for his efforts to import Western weapons to be turned against imperialists. General Lin had the insight to use foreign technology in order to advance Chinese national interests, thus, “open[ing] up an unprecedented vista for the ignorant and blindly xenophobic society of his time and enlighten[ing] some patriotic and progressive senior officials to the reality of the day.”

The publication of this odd account must be understood against the backdrop of China’s political debates about its contemporary open door policy. Just as Lin Zexu tried to rouse China out of its insular and superstitious . . .

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