The Village Conglomerate: A New Form of Political Economy
Rural China has undergone three phases of development since the late 1950s: communization from 1957 to 1978, the implementation of the Household Responsibility System from 1979 to 1984, and the rise of entrepreneurial rural communities from 1985 to the present. The expansion and dynamism of China's TVP (township, village, and private enterprise) sector since 1984 has surprised the majority of China observers. The TVP sector produced a mere 3 percent of the national gross value of industrial output in 1971 and 9 percent in 1978. By the end of 1989, the figure had risen to more than 26 percent of the national total. Furthermore, the rural gross value of industrial output exceeded the value of agricultural output in 1987 for the first time. In 1993, 37 percent of China's total social output value, 70 percent of China's total rural social output value, one-fifth of China's total tax income, and 45 percent of China's total export output value were contributed by rural enterprise. 1 William A. Byrd observed that "industry is now the most important generator of incremental incomes and investment funds in rural areas." 2 The TVP has changed the rural scene.
One of the most significant aspects of the economic and social development in the third wave of rural development in China is the rise of the village conglomerate. A village conglomerate (cun jituan zonggongsi) is a comprehensive economic organization under unified leadership whose membership is restricted to a specific village. It is a direct descendant of the collective economic activities of the brigade level of