China's increasing interaction with the world has had an enormous impact on its domestic economic reforms. In this book Thomas Moore examines the role of the outside world as a source of change in China in the decades since Deng Xiaoping instituted the country's Open Door policy. Moore assesses the impact of varying degrees of economic openness in the world trading system on the reform, restructuring, and rationalization of Chinese industries. Through the lens of two critical, internationally significant industries — shipbuilding and textiles — he investigates the opportunities and constraints presented by the world system.
Moore argues that scholars are wrong to focus narrowly on such factors as Chinese elite politics and industrial planning to explain the course of economic development and to extract predictions about China's future growth. International forces such as industry-specific trade regimes (the Multifiber Arrangement [MFA] in textiles, for example) have had a profound impact, disrupting the pattern of state intervention. The supervisory ministries that once played an intrusive role in the daily operations of industry now play a weakened role, allowing industries to adapt to world market conditions by undertaking the reforms necessary to thrive. As Moore amply demonstrates, the international environment most conducive to change in China's textile and shipbuilding industries during the 1980s and 1990s was one marked by moderate economic closure rather than openness. He also challenges the idea that China's recent economic success has been driven by a mainland version of the “East Asian” model, arguing that Beijing's ability to pursue strategic industrial policy is actually quite limited. Moore's finding that protectionist trade regimes such as the MFA have actually been a boon to industrial reform in China (when compared with other, relatively open international industrial sectors) has important implications for the study of “managed” versus “free” trade environments.
Based on extensive documentary and interview material, the book adds the Chinese case to a long tradition of country-based studies by political economists, historians, and area specialists that have chronicled the experience of developing countries as they enter specific industrial markets in the world economy. This is timely and provocative reading for anyone concerned with the nature of China's deepening participation in the world economy and its consequences for the country's development prospects, internal reforms, and foreign policy.
Thomas G. Moore is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of numerous book chapters and scholarly articles on Chinese foreign policy and China's participation in the world economy, including publications in such journals as Asian Affairs, Asian Perspective, Journal of Contemporary China, and Journal of East Asian Affairs.