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520 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 economie stagnation or decline (p. 146). To the East Asian developmental states, however, "getting prices wrong" (to quote Alice Amsden)' in the form of concessionary loans and protectionist multitiered exchange rates has been part and parcel of the development experience. A transition in China, Vietnam, and elsewhere is occurring, but, to use Chalmers Johnson's categorization, these transitions will more likely be from "plan ideological" economies to "plan rational" economies, not the "market rational" ones for which the World Bank and Mr. Pomfret continue to hope.2 Karl Fields University of Puget Sound Karl Fields is an associate professor ofpolitics and government specializing in East Asian political economy. NOTES1 . Alice Amsden, Asia's Next Giant: South Korea and Late Industrialization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). 2. Chalmers Johnson, MITI and the Japanese Miracle (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1982). John Ravenhill, editor. China, Korea and Taiwan. 2 volumes. Brookfield, Vermont: Edward Elgar, 1995. 1,280 pp. Hardcover $379.95, isbn 1-85898-253-7. This two-volume set is part of a larger six-volume series, The Political Economy of EastAsia, edited by John Ravenhill. Two volumes on Japan and two volumes on Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand round out the series. The aim of the six volumes is to bring "together the best work published on the political economy of the East Asia region." Radier than attempt, in just nine hundred words, to cover all forty-five essays in this two-volume set, this review will concentrate on the fifteen selected by die editor to cover China and Hong Kong. Almost all of the essays here were published between 1986 and 1992 and represent scholarly efforts to understand the reform process unfolding in China since 1978. The selection is excellent, albeit heavily tilted toward writings on "political , . . economy" by political scientists rather than economists. Many of the essays are ofHawai'i Presstrue classics because the authors were among the first to identify and clarify important phenomena in the reform process. Yet from today's vantage point, most of these also seem curiously incomplete. Many present only fragmentary data to Reviews 521 support the identification oftrends and institutional changes. This has not stopped die authors from confidendy developing theories to explain the loosely identified phenomena they have identified. Typically the explanations presented are persuasive and well documented, but rarely are they compared with alternatives and are usually presented as solutions to a complicated puzzle pieced together by a hardworking area specialist. The result is that a careful reading ofthe fifteen essays here provides die reader with numerous insights into the political economy of China and a long research agenda of unanswered questions. Jonathan Unger's "The Decollectivization ofthe Chinese Countryside: A Survey ofTwenty-eight Villages" provides an excellent illustration of this point. Unger focuses on how the da bao gan (big management contracting) system of agricultural cultivation swept through rural China between 1979 and 1982. The picture painted in the Chinese press was that villages could choose among fifteen different types ofresponsibility systems. The reality was that most villages waited for instructions from upper-level officials concerning the choice of system, and that officials competed to see how rapidly they could implement it. Yet we also learn that two villages in Unger's sample were in fact allowed to choose among different systems. Lands in most villages were allocated by rules specified by the county bureaucracy, but the rules of division varied across counties. In two villages, village-level cadres were allowed to allocate lands. In a third village, fields were let out to the highest bidders. Methods also varied for allocating production tools and animal stock; some were sold, some were given away, and some were leased. Unger's essay offered essential insights into the Chinese reform process when it was first published in 1985/1986, but from today's vantage point several questions arise. First, can we draw many conclusions from a sample oftwenty-eight villages? The history ofthe land-reform process of1979-1982 should be sufficiently important to motivate an expanded study diat includes a larger sample of villages and their most important characteristics. Multivariate...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 520-522
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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