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  • Author or Editor: Philip C. C. Huang x
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The “third sphere” born of the interacting of a market economy with a centralized state, and of a system of market contracting 合同 with administrative “assigning responsibility” 发包/承包, has become a key characteristic of the new political-economic system of Reform China. It has imported the private enterprise market economy of the modern West, but has also retained the (revolutionary) tradition of a socialist party-state and its ownership of the principal means of production. Its administrative system resembles more and more the modern West’s (Weberian) bureaucratic system, but it has also retained the traditional imperial Chinese “centralized minimalism” and “parcelized despotism” characteristics. It cannot be grasped by the either/or dualistic opposites mode of thinking, but can only be understood in terms of the combining and interacting of dualistic opposites. The combination may be understood as one concrete and substantive meaning of the officialized term of a “socialist market economy.”

In: Rural China

This article first explains why our “Best Young Scholar’s Monograph Prize in the Social Sciences of Practice” selection committee has chosen the three books International Law and Late Qing China: Texts, Events, and Politics, Rural Development in Contemporary China: Micro Case Examples and Macro Changes, and Urbanizing Children: Identity Production and Political Socialization of Peasant-Worker Sons and Daughters for the award, and then goes on to discuss how monograph production is faced with deeply contradictory forces in the scholarly environment of China today when compared with the American scholarly environment, to explain the purpose of the prize.

In: Rural China

This article takes as its point of departure contrasts between China’s fundamental philosophy of governance and the Anglo-American classical-liberal tradition, to show the differences between a mode of thinking that sees binary opposites as forming interactive unified wholes rather than mutually exclusive either / or opposites. It reviews the Chinese state’s relationship with village communities by looking back at the history of the past century, in North China and in the Yangzi Delta. The article summarizes the traditional mode of governance in the Qing period, undergirded by both state leadership and village self-governance, as well as both moralism and practicality, in the management of village affairs and mediations of disputes. That was followed by the decline and partial breakdown of the system in the Republic, and then excessive state control in the collective era, followed by the opposite of nearly complete state withdrawal in the late Reform period. What is needed is a more balanced relationship between the state and the village, with both top-down leadership and bottom-up participation. Within the party’s own “mass line” tradition, we can separate out the excesses of movement politics from positive practices like the emphasis on investigation and study in public policy-making, on test-point trials before enacting public policies, and on popular participation. Such popular participation should be developed further today to build a better and more balanced relationship between state and society, and prevent recurrences of tendencies toward either too much or too little state involvement in village affairs, in order to implement better the moral ideals of “humane government” and “serve” “the people.” Voluntary popular participation should actually be established as the sine qua non for enacting major public policies affecting the people’s livelihood.

In: Rural China

This article is based on the introduction-summary of the author’s new book awaiting publication. It deals mainly with the realities of China’s “informal economy” (understood as laboring people with little or no legal protection), to be distinguished from misleading and obfuscating “mainstream” theory’s construction and discourse about them. The working people of the “informal economy” today come mainly from the “half cultivator half worker” peasant families, and with them, make up a distinctive social formation that is very different from the expectations of both neoclassical economics and Marxist political economy. It cannot be understood in terms of the conventional categories of “mainstream” theory and needs new conceptualization and theory to grasp. The “informal economy’s” latest manifestation is the rapid spread of “dispatch workers,” who need also to be understood in terms of new theoretical concepts.

In: Rural China
In: Rural China

This article attempts to provide a broad overview response to the question: Whence and whither Chinese agriculture? The point of departure is a summary and discussion of the ten articles of this symposium, five empirical and theoretical discussions from economic historians, two from scholars doing solid and illuminating research on the “new agriculture,” and finally three that explore the issue of what road Chinese agriculture should adopt for the future. The article places the agricultural and rural history of the People’s Republic into the broad perspective of changes since the eighteenth century. It distinguishes between cooperativization, collectivization, and the people’s communes, and between the open-field “old” grain agriculture and the high-value-added “new agriculture.” It examines the differences between the New World’s “lots of land and few people” and the East Asian “lots of people and little land” agricultures, and the former’s land-and-capital-dual-intensifying and the latter’s labor-and-capital-dual-intensifying paths of modern change. From that perspective, it examines the successes and failures of the people’s communes vs. cooperativization–collectivization, of dragon-head enterprises vs. small peasants, and of the American specialty co-ops vs. the East Asian integrated co-ops.

本文试图对中国的农业从哪里来、到哪里去的问题做一个总体性的讨论。文章从对本专辑的十篇论文的总结和讨论出发。首先是五篇经验和理论探索的经济史论文,而后是两篇扎实和充满阐释性的关于近三十多年来兴起的“新农业”的研究,最后是三篇关于当前的农业与农村发展道路的探索。文章从18世纪以来的社会经济史视角来检视人民共和国农业发展的历史,区别合作化、集体化、人民公社化,以及“旧”大田(谷物)农业与高附加值“新农业”。文章论述地多人少的“新大陆”农业与人多地少的东亚农业,区别前者的土地与资本双密集化和后者的劳动与资本双密集化的不同现代演变道路,据此来检视人民公社VS. 合作化-集体化,“龙头企业”VS.小农经济,以及美国“专业合作社”VS. 东亚综合农协模式的得失。 (This article is in English.)

In: Rural China

This article demonstrates how the “old agriculture” of grain production operates today mainly by an administrative model, while the “new agriculture” of high-value-added products (high-end vegetables, fruits, meat-poultry-fish, and eggs-milk) operates mainly by a laissez faire market model. The former serves to protect low-value agricultural products from violent market price swings and international competition to ensure China’s “grain security,” but is prone to a commandist approach that can disregard peasant interests and wishes. The latter has stimulated peasant initiatives through market incentives, but suffers from violent price fluctuations and merchant extractions. A third model, “specialty co-ops,” has thus far been guided by a mistaken model of trying to imitate U.S. co-ops, which are purely economic entities, to the disregard of Chinese village communities. This article urges the adoption of an “East Asian” model of semi-governmental, integrated co-ops based on peasant communities (villages), extending from there up through the governmental hierarchy of townships, counties, provinces, and the central levels. Such co-ops provide “vertical integration” (processing and marketing) services for small-peasant agricultural products, offer technical assistance, organize the purchase and supply of agricultural inputs, extend credit services, engage in community activities, and see to peasant social-political interests, as was done so successfully in Japan-Korea-Taiwan, most especially during the period when their per capita GDP and relative proportions of industry and agriculture stood at levels roughly comparable to China’s today.

本文论证,中国的“旧农业”——谷物生产——今天主要运作于一个行政模式之下,而“新农业”——高值蔬菜、水果、肉-禽-鱼和蛋奶——则主要运作于一个放任的市场模式之下。在国际市场竞争和粮食价格相对低廉的压力下,前者起到保护中国谷物生产和“粮食安全”的作用,但也显示倾向过度依赖指令性手段和无视农民意愿的弱点。后者则成功地凭借市场收益激发了小农的创新性,但经常受到市场价格波动的冲击以及商业资本的榨取。作为第三种模式的“专业合作社”,则主要试图模仿美国的纯经济性合作社模式,无视中国村庄,不符合中国实际。本文提倡,中国应该模仿“东亚”模式的半政府性综合农协,扎根于村庄社区、由此往上延伸到乡-镇、县、省、中央各级政府。它们主要为小农提供“纵向一体化”的产品加工和销售服务、技术咨询与服务、信贷服务、组织农资供销、组织社区活动、并参与国家政治来维护小农利益,一如日-韩-台历史经验中,在其人均gdp以及工农业所占相对比例大致相当于如今中国的那段时期。 (This article is in English.)

In: Rural China