2emerged via careful statutory development as the state transitions from a totalitarian model toone which guarantees specific freedoms for its citizens. The trend has allowed more liberal andWestern-compatible institutional structures to develop while maintaining a high level of central
control over the development of the broader Chinese economy. The policy of “groping for stonesto cross the river”
is suggestive of both the spee
d and the control with which China‟s
government expects to pursue this process. While the liberalization and integration of institutional structures has been gradual, it has been deliberate, as exemplified by thedevelopment of specific institutions such as contract enforceability and bankruptcy. The outcome
of the process has been a set of constantly updated institutions: China‟s bankruptcy law, for
example, was introduced in 1986 and revised in 2007;
its labor contract law was implemented in1994 and updated for 2008.
The government has done an excellent job keeping pace with
economic pressures as it balances “[wanting] to stay in power and an international communitythat wants access to that mythical market.”
For example, increased scrutiny over laborconditions by Western consumers has led to the creation of laws that increase the legal power of workers against employees; humanitarian concerns have seen the filing of suits against thegovernment for the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
The government is actively creatinginstitutions, rights, and freedoms in response to the perceived need for them. Such a tradition of positive rights (freedoms-to) rather than Western negative rights (freedoms-from) approaches thequestion of economic institutions from a distinctively socialist direction.
The government‟s tight control over the development of these institutions has been a
critical factor in a stable development process for China. The characteristic gradualism of thetransformation has allowed court systems and other government institutions to evolve gradually
with the demands of legal enforcement. This approach comes in marked contrast to the “shock
Ran Tao and Zhigang Xu, “Groping for Stones to Cross the River versus Coordinated Policy Reforms:
The Case of Two Reforms in Chin
Journal of Policy Reform
Dan Harris and Travis Hodgkins, “
China's New Bankruptcy Law -- First Report From The Ground
China Law Blog (12 Jun 2007).
“Labor Contract Law of the People‟s Republic of China,”
(4 Oct 2007).
China and Globalization