In trying to interpret the momentous changes that have occurred in China since the death of Mao Zedong, one piece of the puzzle has been conspicuously missing — conceptually if not always empirically — from most scholarship on the so-called reform era: the impact of the outside world. Simply put, what influence have international forces had on the course of change in post-Mao China? Even in the literature on China's growing participation in the world economy, shifts in policy and behavior — both at home and abroad — have been attributed quite narrowly to domestic factors. While this tendency has begun to shift somewhat in recent years, the dominant approach remains Sinocentric in critical respects. Especially for the 1980s and early 1990s, the impact of the outside world continues to be seriously underestimated. Indeed, this book is intended less to highlight the contemporary pattern of external influence on China — one that is increasingly (if still sometimes inadequately) acknowledged in both the academic and popular literatures on China's political economy — than to document the significance of external influence during this earlier period.
More specifically, the overriding goal of this book is to begin work on a conceptual foundation for understanding how international forces have structured the choices China has faced as it has expanded its participation in the world economy while simultaneously undertaking reform of its state socialist economy. While scholars have typically acknowledged the “importance” of the Open Policy (kaifang zhengce) for China's economic development, few studies have examined with any specificity how international forces have actually influenced domestic change in China. At a theoretical level, I am especially concerned with how certain types of stimuli in the international political economy, such as varying degrees of economic openness in world industrial markets,