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Minxin Pei’s new book China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay recites in detail the morass of corruption and collusion in which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) party-state finds itself. Encyclopedic in scope, the book addresses corruption, extraction, and network formation in many of modern China’s formal settings—including in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the nomenklatura system, state institutions, enterprises, the investment sector, and the real property market, among others—but also in nonformal contexts such as the rise of the “local mafia state.” The book’s basic storyline is this: the PRC’s radical devolution of intertwined political power and governance authority over productive assets in the early 1990s, matched with the accelerating creation of property rights, delivered on the party’s mission to lift China out of poverty and create sustained economic development. It did so, however, at the cost of generating uniquely harmful incentive structures and resulting extractive and efficiency-defeating behavior that has contributed to regime decay and the frustration of any future advance to democratic and rule-of-law governance structures.


Reproduced with permission. Originally published by M. Pei. Asia Pol'y, DOI: