Trying to understand how China has managed its economic development over the last 35 yearsis no simple task. But what I find most fascinating about economic development is how leaders are able to bring the general population along with them on the journey.
It certainly does not hurt to bring extra money into people’s pockets, but what about those who do not benefit from new political decisions?
This is the question I tried to understand more fully in my research while at the London School of Economics. My dissertation looked at how different sectors in China (government, business, and civil society) coped with and kept in check each other’s vested interests as they set out to redevelop China’s cities after almost a half century of Communist oversight. I looked specifically at a massive mixed-use development project called Oriental Plaza in the heart of Beijing (at Wangfujing) and specifically at how workers and businesses jockeyed with government officials during the construction period and how they coped with the shift from state-owned urban land to privately held land-use rights.
The result shows how institutions can be cultivated incrementally and creatively to achieve results that might not be ideal but are ideal for the given moment in time.
You can download the pdf here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/DESTIN/pdf/WP81.pdf