Competing Hegemonic Projects within China's Variegated Capitalism: ‘Liberal’ Guangdong vs.‘Statist’Chongqing

Andreas Møller Mulvad

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This article investigates the variegated model of capitalism emerging in China through a comparative analysis of two contrasting local government approaches developed in Chongqing and Guangdong. From 2007 to 2012, elite politicians and intellectuals articulated the Chongqing and Guangdong models as contradictory visions for China. Drawing on a three-pronged conceptual framework developed by Bob Jessop, the article de- and reconstructs this dichotomy which has been embraced by some Western scholars. It is argued, first, that the two models involve complimentary accumulation strategies: as Guangdong moves up global value chains, Chongqing takes over many of its low-wage jobs in manufacturing sectors. Second, however, the two models do entail contrasting state projects. Guangdong's local government opened up more space for civil society organisations than normally allowed, whereas Chongqing's administrators reinforced China's state-led development path. Finally, it is highlighted how this difference between state projects is reflected in two antagonistic hegemonic visions for China's national development, illustrated by the populism of former Chongqing Party Chief Bo Xilai vs. the pro-business stance of his Guangdong counterpart Wang Yang. Future studies should expand upon the key theoretical insight of the paper: that the emergent variegated capitalism approach to political–economic analysis needs a stronger ideational component.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Political Economy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)199-227
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Variegated capitalism
  • Hegemonic projects
  • Guangdong model
  • Chongqing model
  • Wang Yang
  • Bo Xilai
  • Bob Jessop

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