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Professor Gao Shangquan, born in September 1929 in Jiading - Shanghai, is one
of China's most prominent economists, a key figure in thinking-thanking
economic reforms in China. He is a senior research fellow, professor and
former vice-minister of the State Commission for Restructuring the Economic
Systems, the central agency that played an essential role in setting up and
carrying out economic reform policy. He is also appointed member of the United
Nations Committee for Development Policy and consultant for the World Bank. In
1952, he graduated from the Department of Economics at St. John's University
in Shanghai. He held various positions in the Ministry of Machine-Building
Industry and the State Commission of Machine-Building Industry (1952-1982).
From 1985 to 1993, Dr. Gao was vice minister of the State Commission for
Restructuring the Economic Systems. During the same period, he was the head of
the Economic Systems Reform Office of the State Council, vice chairman of the
Housing System Reform Leading Group of the State Council, a member of the
National Economic & Social Development Research & Coordination Panel
of the State Council, and a member of the Council of the People's Bank of
China. He was also a member and the head of the Economic Subgroup of the
Preparatory Committee for Hong Kong Special administrative Region (1996-1997).
A large portion of his responsibilities lay in drafting policy proposals and
conducting respective policy research. he was deeply involved in the overall
design of state policies and guided the economic reforms in China for the past
20 years. Some of his economic theories and policy proposals were adopted in
major policy documents by the Central Committee of China's Communist
At the present time Professor Gao Shangquan is a member of the National
Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, president of
the China Research Society of Enterprise Reform & Development, Chairman of
China Reform Foundation, president of the China (Hainan) Institute for Reform
& Development, and senior advisor for the China International Institute of
Strategic Studies. He is a Professor and Ph.D. supervisor at Beijing
University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, dean of the School of
Management in Zhellang University and a guest professor at the People's
University of China, Nankai University, and Shanghai Financial and Economics
University. He is also an advisor for the MBA Program of the Australian
National University and Financial Center of the University of London.
Professor Gao's work is widely published in China and abroad. His main books
are: Two Decades of Reform in China (1999), Market Economy
and China's Reform (1999), China's Second Revolution (1998),
China's Market Economy (1998), China's Economic Reform (1995),
Introduction to Socialist Market Economy (1994), From Planned
Economy to Market Economy (1993), On Planning & Market (1992),
China's Economic Systems Reform (1991), On the Road to National
Power (1991), Selected Works of Gao Shangquan (1989), Economic
Reform of the Last Nine Years (1987), The Road to Hope (1987),
and Our Own Road to Agricultural Modernization (1982). Professor
Gao is also the Chief Editor of nearly 30 books including: Reforming
China's Financial System (1996), The Chinese Securities Market
(1996), China's Social Security System (1996), and Theory and
Reality of Transition to a Market Economy (1995).
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Shangquan, Gao, Two Decades of Reform in China. Singapore; River Edge,
N.J.; London: World Scientific, c1999.
Shangquan, Gao, "China's Economic Restructuring, Structural Adjustment and
Social Stability." China Economic Review. Vol. 8, No 1 (Spring 1997):
Shangquan, Gao, China's Economic Reform. New York: St. Martin's
Press; London: Macmillan Press, 1996.
Zhu, Huayou, Reforming China's Financial System. Chief editors, Gao
Shangquan and Chi Fulin; written by Zhu Huayou. Beijing: Foreign Languages
Zhu, Huayou, The Chinese Securities Market. Chief editors, Gao
Shangquan and Chi Fulin. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, c1996.
Sun, Xiuping, China's Social Security System. Chief editors, Gao
Shangquan and Chi Fulin, Beijing : Foreign Languages Press : Distributed by
China International Book Trading Corp., 1996.
Sun, Xiuping, Theory and Reality of Transition to a Market Economy.
Chief editors, Gao Shangquan and Chi Fulin; written by Sun Xiuping,
Zhu Huayou, and Yao Tiejun. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, c1995.
Shangquan, Gao, "Taking a Market-Oriented Direction and Pushing Forward in a
Gradual Way--The Basic Experience of China's Economic Reform." China
Economic Review. Vol. 4, No 2 (1993): 129-36.
Shangquan, Gao; Chen, Yizi; Wang, Xiaoqiang, "Investigation of Reforms in
Hungary and Yugoslavia." Chinese Economic Studies. Vol.
22, No 3 (Spring 1989): 80-88.
Shangquan, Gao, Chiu nien lai ti Chung-kuo ching chi t`i chih kai ko.
Kao Shang-ch`üan Published [Peking] : Jen min ch`u pan she: Hsin hua shu
tien ching hsiao, 1987.
Shangquan, Gao, "The Reform of China's Industrial System," in China's
Industrial Reform (1987): 132-42 Publication: Oxford; New York; Toronto
and Melbourne: Oxford University Press for The World Bank 1987.
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Author: Park, Albert
Affiliation: U of MI, Ann Arbor
Title: China's Economic Reform (book review)
Source: Journal of Economic Literature v35, n2 (September 1997):
Standard No: ISSN: 0022-0515
Reviewed Item: Author: Gao, Shangquan 1996 Forewords by Alec Cairncross and
Edward Heath. Studies on the Chinese Economy.
New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Macmillan Press, ISBN:
In contrast with eastern Europe where economic reform accompanied political
upheaval, reform-minded leaders in China are Communist Party members who have
walked a fine line in pushing ahead with market reforms without appearing to
embrace capitalist excess or betray the country's socialist ideology. This
book, written by a government official and economist who has been directly
involved in orchestrating China's reforms, exemplifies the language and theory
used to accomplish this balance. It also provides a Chinese perspective on the
introduction of major reform policies, discussing their successes and
failures. The first two chapters address reform issues at a conceptual level.
Chapter 1 clarifies China's vision of a socialist market economy, which
roughly can be characterized as maintaining public ownership while promoting
market competition and greater managerial autonomy. Chapter 2 outlines the
broad achievements of reform and describes remaining imbalances and
"structural contradictions." The next six chapters review specific aspects of
reform: the open door policy, rural reforms, enterprise reforms, marketing
reforms, macroeconomic management, and income redistribution and social
insurance. The book concludes with a lengthy chapter containing transcripts of
interviews with international journalists. As someone who publicly advocated
greater enterprise autonomy as early as 1956, Gao is staunchly pro-reform. In
fact, one senses that his main aim is to reassure readers that China is
strongly committed to reform, that reform is inevitable, and that China's
pursuit of reform has been and will continue to be pragmatic and successful.
As might be expected given his public role, most of the views expressed by
Gao, especially in his press interviews, closely follow official government
positions. This makes the book useful as a statement of China's official
reform philosophy but leaves the reader wondering whether Gao really believes
everything he says. In particular, his insistence on the need to maintain
public ownership seems at odds with his repeated urging that managers be made
fully responsible for profits and losses. Not surprisingly, Gao offers a very
positive account of China's reform experience and the government's leadership
role in the reform process. He writes, "Under such firm leadership, the
process of reform and opening up is guaranteed to develop healthily along the
socialist road" (p. 12). He offers a useful description of many of the
policies implemented in different sectors and some of the changes that
resulted. The chapter on enterprise reforms, the author's area of expertise,
is of greatest interest, describing early experiments that preceded different
reforms, such as the shift from profit to tax remittance, and the early
rise of business groups, mergers, and share systems of ownership in the
1980s, phenomena which have become prominent in the 1990s. Chapters on
other sectors are shorter and provide less new information. One of the
limitations of the book is that it discusses only the reform experience
through 1988, making some of the discussion seem dated given the substantial
changes that have occurred since then. Unfortunately, in Gao's zeal to
document China's reform successes, some claims of policy success are overstated.
For example, in the chapter on rural reforms he suggests that farmers'
title to land has been extended beyond 15 years, that many regions have
consolidated agricultural land, and that peasants have a strong voice in
collective organizations. These are policies that exist in name but in
practice are not implemented widely. To his credit, Gao makes a point in
each chapter to describe some of the problems that the reforms have encountered
or have failed to overcome. This provides an important balance to his discussion
as well as insightful glimpses into the difficulties of reforming the economy
of such a vast country. Unfortunately, most problems are characterized
as temporary ones that will surely disappear with strong government leadership.
Western economists are likely to have less confidence than the author that
government planning can solve economic ills and will be disappointed at
the lack of a more analytical treatment of the desirability and feasibility
of different reform options and sequences. On many of the country's most
difficult reform problems--public enterprise performance, macroeconomic
control, falling fiscal revenues, policy subversion by local governments,
and growing inequalities and persistent poverty--Gao provides few insider
insights let alone creative thinking on policy solutions.
Readers also should be warned that this book can be a difficult read.
Many descriptive statistics are sloppily cited (no sources, lack of information
on the year(s) to which they apply). Most maddening is the author's penchant
for citing nominal rather than real growth figures, making many claims
difficult to evaluate. There also are significant problems of translation,
so that readers are likely to be left scratching their heads as they encounter
undefined expressions such as "three capitals enterprise" and "floating
ratio" (Ch. 2) or try to distinguish between "agrarian" and "agricultural"
output (Ch. 3).; Although it provides information on China's economic reforms,
this book is interesting more for its insights into the Chinese view of
reforms than for its economic insights into the process of economic transition.
This comes out especially in Gao's statements to journalists, which I found
to be the most interesting part of the book because of the pointed nature
of many of the questions. He deftly couches his support for reforms in
a consistent framework that is politically acceptable, and the reader gains
a sense for how reform policies are rationalized and implemented in practice.
Despite occasional leaps and mistakes in economic logic, Gao does grasp
clearly the key importance of enterprise autonomy and market competition
for getting incentives right, a testament to the resourceful pragmatism
of China's reform leadership.