Exploring China’s Impacts on Development Thinking and Policies

Volume 52 Number 2
Published: November 26, 2021

In this article, we explore the impacts, actual and potential, of China’s development experiences upon development thinking and policies elsewhere. New Structural Economics, a theoretical innovation by Professor Justin Yifu Lin drawing on a longer tradition of pragmatic ‘learning by doing’ development strategies, provides a framework in which three agendas stand out: structural transformation as a policy priority; the return of industrial policy; and the use of Special Economic Zones. We integrate related drivers of growth in China: rapid urbanisation pulling in massive rural migration in an economic transformation process; the financing of provincial and city governments by improvised local government financing vehicles based on rising urban land values; and competition and accountability processes in China’s subnational governance system. While China’s experiences cannot be directly replicated elsewhere, we argue that lessons on why and how to achieve structural transformation are relevant for other developing countries, especially in fast urbanising and integrating Africa.

From Issue: Vol. 52 No. 2 (2021) | China and International Development: Knowledge, Governance, and Practice