Title

Why do similar areas adopt different developmental strategies? A study of two puzzling Chinese provinces

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

5-2009

Abstract

Focusing on Guizhou and Yunnan, two provinces with similar geographies, institutions and natural resource endowments, this paper asks why provincial leaders adopted markedly disparate economic strategies. Using data from the early 1980s to 2003 gathered from fieldwork and secondary sources, it focuses on three political factors purported to explain differences in provincial policy: (a) constraints and opportunities from central authorities; (b) characteristics of the provinces; and (c) attributes of individual provincial leaders. I argue that while the center constrains and encourages certain actions and approaches in the provinces, the experiences and background of individual provincial leaders further affects the choice of strategies implemented there. Moreover, once a particular course is set and receives central support, a form of path dependency can encourage the strategy to continue even after the original leaders have departed. While emphasizing the importance of characteristics of local leaders and their relationship with the center, the paper questions the assumptions on which research focusing on elite characteristics has so far been based, and suggests alternative approaches. The results have implications for our understanding not only of these two provinces, but also central–provincial relations and the origins of the economic policies of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Keywords

Economic policies, Chinese provincial policies, Guizhou, Yunnan, China

Discipline

Asian Studies | Economic Policy | Growth and Development | Political Science

Research Areas

Political Science

Publication

Journal of Contemporary China

Volume

18

Issue

60

First Page

421

Last Page

444

ISSN

1067-0564

Identifier

10.1080/10670560902770610

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1080/10670560902770610