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date: 13 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at the origin of SEZs in China and examines the evolution of different types of Chinese SEZs. It explores how SEZs served as a catalyst for policy changes to facilitate China’s transition from planned economy to market economy by conducting experiments in demarcated areas and then rolling out nationwide. It evaluates SEZs as an engine of structural transformation to promote industrialization and urbanization, and distils the ingredients for success from the perspective of New Structural Economics. While China’s experience cannot be directly replicated elsewhere, it does provide insights into success factors for other developing countries. The chapter identifies conditions for success as commitment by top leadership; targeting sectors in line with latent advantages and adjusting sectoral focus dynamically; building capable public administration to lead investment promotion; and adopting an experimental approach and learning from mistakes. It comes with the caveat that not all SEZs are successful in China.

Keywords: special economic zones, China, structural transformation, market reform, New Structural Economics, experimental approach, learning from mistakes, economic growth

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