Revisiting China’s Market Economy Status: State Capitalism within the Liberal Trading System




China, socialist market economy, WTO, Varieties of Capitalism


This paper examines the question of China’s compliance with market economy principles. China has reformed away from central planning in the past four decades, but has it achieved a fully-fledged market economy? The paper sheds new light on the contested nature of China’s market economy status from a political economy perspective. It draws on the Varieties of Capitalism analytical framework. The paper explains China’s status as a market economy as the product of a national model of state-dominated institutional complementarities between high levels of trade openness and domestic regulation, including nonmarket principles for the deployment of financial resources and labour.

Author Biography

Boyka M Stefanova, University of Texas at San Antonio

Boyka Stefanova is Professor in the Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas, San Antonio. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Delaware (2004). Dr. Stefanova’s areas of specialization are European Politics, comparative regionalism, and global governance. Her research interests focus on political conflict, territoriality and politics in the context of European integration, democracy in Eastern Europe, and majority-minority relations. Dr. Stefanova has published four books in the area of comparative studies and issues in European integration, namely: The European Union and Europe’s New Regionalism: The Challenge of Enlargement, Neighborhood, and Globalization (Palgrave Macmillan 2018), The European Union beyond the Crisis: Evolving Governance, Contested Policies, and Disenchanted Publics (editor, Lexington Books 2014), The Europeanization of Conflict Resolution: Integration and Conflicts in Europe from the 1950s to the 21st Century (Manchester University Press 2011), and The War on Terror in Comparative Perspective:  U.S. Foreign and Security Policy after 9/11, editor (with Mark Miller, Palgrave Macmillan 2007). Other publications include more than thirty articles and book chapters exploring a variety of topics in the area of conflict resolution, minority rights, regionalism, and the geopolitics of energy. Her work has appeared in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Electoral Studies, Nationalities Papers, Journal of Strategic Security, East European Politics & Societies, World Affairs, and Cornell International Law Journal, among others. Dr. Stefanova is a Fulbright Senior Scholar, Wilson Scholar, and IREX grant recipient.



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