The Special Economic Zones of China and Their Impact on Its Economic Development

The Special Economic Zones of China and Their Impact on Its Economic Development

The Special Economic Zones of China and Their Impact on Its Economic Development

The Special Economic Zones of China and Their Impact on Its Economic Development

Excerpt

Many studies evaluate the role of special economic zones, the majority produced in China. Since most were conducted by administrative officials, they focus on policies and their contents are usually introductory or educational. Those studies considered major include Ten Years of Chinese Special Economic Zone. Shenzhen, edited byZheng Tianlun andChen Zhuohua in 1990; Ten Years of Chinese Special Economic Zone: Zhuhai, edited byYang Chanzhu in 1990; Ten Years of Chinese Special Economic Zone: Shantou, edited byFang Lingsheng; and Ten Years of Chinese Special Economic Zone: Hainan, edited bySu Yucai. These works are judged the most outstanding studies of the four special economic zones, excluding Xiamen, produced during the past ten years. They deal with a wide range of topics, such as the investment context of the zones, their economic performance, the current status of economic reform, and the economic relations of the zones with internal corporations or with Hong Kong. However, the evaluation standards of these studies are much too simple. They simply compare economic performance before and after establishment of the zones. With some indexes, a simple comparison like this can be useful. However, a more important consideration in evaluating the zones is not performance, but background factors. Previous studies do deal with the introduction of various types of market economies (unthinkable in traditional socialist China) in order to reform the economic system. However, they do not comment on the problems encountered in introducing a market economy to the zones. The zones' economic relationships with domestic firms and Hong Kong are mentioned, but their role in those relationships and in the Chinese economy is almost neglected. Moreover, as a result of overemphasizing macrodevelopment issues, structural problems are hardly mentioned.

Ten Years of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, published by the Office of Policies of Shenzhen (Shenzhenshi zhengzhi bangongshi) in 1990, for example, deals inadequately with structural aspects, such as the transfer of foreign capital and technology. This is measured by the import of a few very expensive machines, yet how effectively . . .

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