chapter  3
38 Pages

The making of big business: From industrial ministries to centrally controlled ‘national champions’

The policy line that CCP should restructure the Stalinist central industrial ministries system into certain forms of large multi-plant, multi-regional business organizations under the party and state’s control has a long history within CCP’s leadership. It can at least be traced back to the early 1960s, when Liu Shaoqi proposed that CCP should establish a number of giant national ‘corporate trusts ( tuolasi )’ as the socialist China’s counterparts of Western monopolistic big business. While this approach had been halted in practice by political interruptions or subdued by alternative policy approaches since the short-lived tuolasi experiment in the 1960s, its quintessential idea generated long-lasting impact and had struck back recurrently in different forms. In the 1980s, it led to the establishment of a batch of large centrally controlled zonggongsi (literally translated as ‘General Corporation’) as industry-wide, national administrative corporations. Under the technocratic leadership in the 1990s, this approach was endorsed with unprecedented priority and commitment. Throughout the recent two decades, to build certain forms of centrally controlled big business with international competitiveness had been consistently at the core of the central technocrats’ agenda of industrial reform.