- Weida de Zhongguo gongye geming: "Fazhan zhengzhi jingjixue" yiban yuanli pipan gangyao by Yi Wen
The rise of China as an economic superpower is the most important event in the world economy over the past century, and it can be compared to the English industrial revolution. What is the secret of China's ultrafast growth? Has China's development path been somewhat unique? Is China's experience theoretically just an unusual exception? In his new book, The Great Industrial Revolution of China: An Outline of Critique of General Theory of the "Political Economy of Development," Professor Yi Wen examines these questions in unprecedented depth.
As the title suggests, this book has dual objectives: first, it describes and explains the key steps and "tricks" of China's rapid industrialization and socioeconomic changes since 1978; second, it uses China's experience to shed light on the long-standing puzzle of the English industrial revolution in academia and establishes a general theory for the political economy of development. The book contains seven chapters. In Chapter 1, it proposes the necessity of reflecting on China's experience and the theory of mainstream economics. Chapter 2 describes the "tricks" that China has used to trigger the industrial revolution based on the industrialization process since China's reform and opening up. In Chapter 3, the first industrial revolution of 200 years ago is reexamined based on China's experience, described above, to explain why the industrial revolution, which has been called the great continental divide of human history, emerged in Britain rather than in the Netherlands, India, or the China of the Qing Dynasty. Based on the internal logic of the industrial revolution and the reinterpretation of the rise of the West, Chapter 4 presents a new interpretation of the phenomenon by which even confronting many serious challenges, China is still able to maintain its rising momentum. In Chapter 5, on the basis of empirical analysis, critiques of the economical misguidance and political naivety of the Washington Consensus and the institutional theories of economic development are presented. In Chapter 6, the principle of industrial upgrading and the role of the government in China's economic transformation are illustrated in a case study of Yonglian Village of Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province. In Chapter 7, the main arguments of the "embryonic development theory" of economic development are [End Page 165] introduced, and their implications for China's future development and world order change are summarized.
According to standard Western economic theory, China's success is surprising. Confronting China's economic rise, scholars either predict that China's success is only temporary and unsustainable or believe that China is only an "exception" for the existing theory and that it is unnecessary to explain the "exception." However, Wen's book tells us that even though the initial social, economic, political, cultural, and international environments are very different, China's development path has actually followed the same intrinsic logic that the English industrial revolution of 200 years ago followed. Similar to embryonic development, an agrarian nation must undergo three major stages of development: the proto-industrialization stage, the first industrial revolution stage, and the second industrial revolution stage. A successful industrialization process is always an industrial upgrading process that is bottom-up, is driven by low-level demands, and achieves the financing of a subsequent stage from the savings of a previous stage, and in each stage, the creation of newer and larger markets will be encountered. Because the cost of collective action by individuals is enormous, the mass-market creation requires a powerful and colossal merchant class or a government that practices mercantilist policies. Before the English industrial revolution, the British government not only had cultivated a unified domestic market and a merchant class consisting of a large number of adventurous businessmen but also had promoted the development of overseas markets under a nationalistic mercantilist spirit. It was these markets...