That is the title of my contribution to a new book published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies entitled Chinese State Capitalism: Diagnosis and Prognosis. The book is the fruit of a very interesting workshop held back in February, organized by the estimable Jude Blanchette and Scott Kennedy. That event was one of the more interesting intellectual exchanges I’ve had in a while and it was a great opportunity to learn from some of the best people working on China today.
What I’ve tried to do in this short piece is very simple: just identify some basic empirical facts and established regularities about China’s economic system, based on my own findings and the insights of the other contributors. Our workshop started off as a discussion of “state capitalism,” which is probably as good of a shorthand description of that system as we’re going to get in the English language. Personally I think you can still make a case for calling China “socialist,” or perhaps “Leninist,” and some folks have recently made a good argument for preferring “Party-state capitalism” to account for the direction it has evolved under Xi.
But ultimately the label is less important than getting closer to a common understanding of the reality–even if Scott, in his conclusion to the book, feels that we have not yet managed to achieve that. Read it and decide for yourself.