Authoritarian liberalization is the only kind there has ever been (@ UF2.1).
(Some additional background here.)
Let it be explicitly said: this is no less a dramatic top-down change than the Cultural Revolution was. The main differences is that this is not insane and perhaps the pace of change, and so is doing the opposite of killing everybody.
China cannot reform politically without reforming economically first. But to reform economic policy, it first had to remove the far left (as the West uses the term, actually they are called the conservatives in China). The article linked through the Diplomat focuses on China’s decentralized political structure, where local governments have ably ignored central government regulations for years. There is also a battle at the top though. There have been reports coming out for a couple of years now about removing Maoist thought from the party. Bo Xilai was trying to revive Maoism (reds). He went down, and then Zhou Yongkang, a Bo Xilai ally at the top level of government, lost his power. Now corruption charges are aimed at the major oil companies in China. The major oil companies are red controlled entities. This was one of their paths to advancement within the party, and now it is dead.
What is taking place is a political takedown through political and economic channels. The battle goes back years (some called the downfall of Bo Xilia, the revenge of Wen Jiabao). The key turning point for recent history was 2005, when the market reforms stopped and the banks stepped in to prop up party power. Regulatory power was shifted from the PBOC to MoF and reform ground to a halt. One of the first things that happened after Bo Xilai fell, was a halted financial reform project in Wenzhou was revived, under the care of the PBOC. If you look at what is going on now, it is a turf battle between the PBOC and MoF on some issues. A faction of insiders who want to get rich like the setup of controlling SOEs and the big banks that lend to them. The reformers want to reduce their power and allow more market reforms. Foreigners were supposed to be allowed into the Chinese stock market in 2005, now this might finally happen in the next few years.
Nick, I’ve been looking at Carl Schmitt for my thesis. Here is a good on his ties with authortarian liberalism. It’s a very detailed, meticulous study. The chapter on Hayek and Schmitt is particularly revealing – so is the Appendix speech.
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