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Communication in China: Political Economy, Power, and Conflict Paperback – Mar 20 2008

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Zhao's Marxist framework mis-characterizes the PRC party-state's bureaucratic capitalism as "neo-liberal" March 3 2013
By Harvy Lind - Published on
Format: Paperback
On the positive side, this book sheds light on a number of controversies in PRC media and politics, including liberalizing advocates of rule of law and of protecting basic civil rights such as former People's University President Xie Tao, Beijing University Professor of Law He Weifang, and conscientious journalists such as Li Datong and Jiang Weiping. Yet the book sorely lacks a bibliography and Chinese character glossary for key names and terms, and the endnotes that follow each of its six chapters (plus intro and conclusion) reveal that most of the web-based research materials cited were accessed between 2004 and 2006, making the book largely out of date by the 2010s. Zhao's major flaw is that as a true-believing follower of the British Marxist geographer David Harvey and his condemnation of the globalization of market forces as "neo-liberalism," she insists that the authoritarian PRC party-state's loosening of the Maoist straitjacket on the PRC economy while keeping the straitjacket tight on PRC politics is "neo-liberalist." In actuality, the large majority of the PRC's largest corporations remain either state-owned (SOEs) or else at least partly under control of the Party-state, either by the latter's owning of a large percentage of the corporation's stock or else controlling the selection of its CEO through the Party's Organization Department, the all-powerful personnel bureaucracy in charge of key appointments,transfers, and dismissals. The PRC economic system is thus not "neo-liberal" in the sense of lightly regulated by the government or supportive of merchants as an independent force, but quite the reverse, a mercantilist system of state capitalism or bureaucratic capitalism. Hence, economists and other scholars who do not bring outdated and fallacious Marxist assumptions to their analysis of large PRC corporations, for example, speak of "red chip" as opposed to "blue chip" PRC corporations, particularly those in sectors deemed politically sensitive by the Communist Party such as telecommunications, munitions, and finance. In sum, the Party's decision to loosen the old Mao-era straitjacket on the PRC economy has nothing whatsoever to do with liberalism or neo-liberalism, and in fact the Party has always railed against liberalism in its propaganda and launched campaigns and purges against it repeatedly, such as Deng Xiaoping's campaign and purge of "bourgeois liberalization" in 1987. Zhao's ideologically-driven insistence upon mislabeling a mercantilist and single-party authoritarian bureaucracy-dominated economic system as "neo-liberal" sheds far more heat than light upon the subject, and is seriously misleading.