Features of Capitalism and the Restructuring of Ruling Classes in China

Torstein Hjellum


The questions that will be discussed in this paper are the
following: Is it possible to identify capitalist classes, or a
Chinese bourgeoisie (as a faceted mixture of diverse capitalist
groups or classes) at the end of the 1990s? Are capitalist classes
becoming an integral part of a "ruling class' or a collective body
of 'ruling classes'? Is 'bureaucratic capitalism' a proper term of
Chinese capitalism?
This is an ambitious task: It involves complex and contested
concepts, that of 'class', 'capitalist class' and 'ruling class' and it
tries to relate them to a very complicated historical process
actually taking place in the largest country in the world. However,
the questions involved are, or should be, of the greatest
interest to the Chinese people and social scientists. In the paper
I try to summarize some literature on the subject and to interpret
some empirical findings from a class-theoretical perspective
in the hope of stimulating further studies and debates.
The author argues that the actual modernization of the
Chinese economy is producing new economic elites which will
constitute a Chinese 'bourgeoisie' among which state and party
cadres are in the lead. The specific state-led capitalism should
be properly labelled 'bureaucratic capitalism'.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22439/cjas.v14i1.2153

Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies
ISSN (print): 1395-4199, ISSN (online): 2246-2163

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