China’s record of economic development in the last two decades of the twentieth century was spectacular by international comparison. Whilst most parts of the non-Western world were experiencing sluggish economic growth or outright stagnation, China’s per capita income on average increased by 9 per cent a year over a period of more than twenty years. This record, in particular, stands in contrast to the economic depression in countries of the former Soviet bloc which also underwent similar processes of systemic transformation. However, while China’s development record is generally admired, the explanation for its achievement has been a matter of debate among observers. A prominent assertion, mostly in journalistic writings but also in the scholarly literature, has been that China’s success has occurred in spite, rather than because, of its theoretically dubious approach to systemic transformation. Indeed, orthodox economists tend to argue that. by avoiding or delaying mass privatization and rapid liberalization in certain key sectors (such as finance), China’s systemic transformation is likely to have contributed, on balance, negatively to economic development. The outstanding record of actual development, therefore, has rested on factors other than those attributable to the reformed economic system. Understandably, this assertion has been confronted with counterarguments by scholarly studies from heterodox orientations.