The Political Economy of State Sector Restructuring in China: Cross-provincial Evidence 2008–2017

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Results reported in this article, on local implementation of mixed-ownership reforms and the corporatization of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOE) in the period 2008–2017, confirm that political and economic factors determine the possibility, objective, and pace of SOE corporate restructuring. With a starting point in a comprehensive review of the literature on Chinese SOE reforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s, hypotheses on the effects of 1) market supporting institutions, 2) fiscal and financial stability constraints, and 3) social stability constraints on state sector ownership reforms were identified. Industrial economy statistics found in province-level statistical yearbooks were used to test the continuing relevance of these hypotheses and to provide the basis for an updated analysis of the ownership structure of local state-owned enterprises in a new phase of SOE reforms. Most of the firm-level findings reported here are consistent with those of previous studies. However, in contrast to earlier stages of SOE reforms, we find that fiscal pressure on local governments no longer functions as a driver of local-state-sector ownership restructuring. The analysis implies that the Chinese government’s current SOE reform strategy, which this time focus on mixed ownership, is mainly relevant for high-performing SOEs located in rich provinces with well-developed market-supporting institutions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chinese Political Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)273-299
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 22 September 2022.


  • State-owned enterprises
  • Economic reform
  • Mixed ownership
  • Corporatization
  • Subnational institutions

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