China's Transition to Industrialism

In This Review

China's Transition to Industrialism

By Thomas G. Rawski
University of Michigan Press, 1980
211 pp. $16.50
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For anyone who doubts that the groundwork for an industrial revolution has been laid in China during the past 30 years, this book is required reading. The gross value of factory output has grown at a pace of more than ten percent per year during the past quarter-century. The producer sectors of industry have grown even faster, leading to steady and rapid structural change. Textiles and food processing, which accounted for half of factory output in 1952, comprised only 13.9 percent in 1973. In their place stand the greatly enlarged engineering, metallurgical, and chemical industries that now account for a combined total of roughly two-fifths of gross output value. Rawski argues that the Chinese system outperforms the orthodox Soviet system of industrial management because of its unique combination of command and atomistic economies, and because of its highly motivated corps of grass-roots leaders who are technically competent, sensitive to national priorities, flexible in implementing those priorities, and capable of exercising the entrepreneurial skills needed to bring local resources to bear on the key problems of the day. In all, this is one of the most stimulating works on the Chinese economy yet written.