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China Opens Its Doors: The Politics of Economic Transition

Jude Howell
ISBN: 978-1-55587-480-3
1993/274 pages/LC: 93-2538

"The author does more than merely describe the contradictions and dilemmas of the reform process, but offers instead an approach to understanding the dynamics underlying China’s modernization effort...engaging account of the reform process that is theoretically informed and offers many insights for students of the period....The volume will be a welcome addition to the libraries of those studying the dilemmas of China’s reform efforts."—Pacific Affairs

"An impressive piece of empirical work on a notoriously complex set of issues. "—LABOUR, Capital and Society

"A direct attempt to examine precisely the interaction of economics and politics.... This study is very welcome.... Howell's book is a good example of the benefits to be gained from a proper synthesis of economic and political processes."—Terry Cannon

"A valuable resource on the Chinese economy and international trade."—Choice

"Well written and blissfully jargon-free. . . . Howell presents a well-organized and comprehensive discussion of an important subject."—Rhoda Weidenbaum


China Opens Its Doors explains and documents the complex relationship between the politics and economics of China's recent "Open Policy," covering the period from 1978 up to the Party Congress of November 1992.

Though emphasizing the political essence of this policy process, Howell also looks at the sociopolitical changes that it has engendered, including its impact on the state and labor. Her analysis—illustrated by a case study of the Xiamen special economic zone and set in the broader context of the global spread of liberal democracy—provides new insight into the politics of the "Open Door."


Jude Howell (1956-2022) was professor of international development at the London School of Economics and Political Science.


  • Introduction.
  • Setting the Theoretical Stage.
  • Spiralling Outwards, 1976-1986.
  • Spiralling Onwards, Mid-1986-1992.
  • The Dynamics of the Open Policy in Xiamen.
  • Towards a Market-Facilitating State.
  • The Fate of Labour.
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