Feng CHEN, Economic Transilion and Political Legitimacy in Post-Mao China: Ideology and Reform. New York: State University of New York Press 1995. xvi+246 pp., with bibliography and index. ISBN: 0-7914-2657-2 (hc), 0-7914-2658-0 (pbk). Price: US$16.95.

Defining China's reform as a paradoxical process of utilėzing capitalist economic policies to enhance socialism, "the goal of this book is to explore the origin of this paradox -- why and how it occurred -- and to analyze its political consequences. In doing so, the book tries to capture and present to readers the major changes in China's ideological landscape since 1978 and to relate these changes to the future social transformation in China" (p. ix). The author argues that ideas and ideology play an important role in China's economic reform, in order to sustain the system's legitimacy(p. 2). This, the author points out, is usually neglected in the approaches focusing on decision makers' rational policy choices, the power struggles at the top, and the changes in bureaucratic interests.

Chapter 2, on the pre-reform ownership system, shows how the failure of the central-planning economy led to the realization that reform was necessary. Chapter 3 analyzes the theoretical debates betweell the pro-Mao "whateverists" and the refor- mist leaders. The "whntevcl" 13ction cmpllasizcd ~he uncllangeability of Mao's doc- trines while the reformist leaders tried to use "practice" and "productive forces" as policy criterions to modify CCP ėdeology in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. The author explains the significance of these debates for the reformulation of ideology, their policy implications. tlleir limitatiolls, and the political tensions involved.

Chapter 4 discusses agricultural reform, particularly the "individual household contract" system. The author aims to show that this system was the "logical develop- ment" of decollectivization. It can be argued, however, that the reforms in the countryside became an urgent necessity in view of mounting rural discontent. The rebellion in Renshou County. Sichuan Plovince. in early 1993 was a telling sign that the CCP was losing its control over the rural areas.

Chapter 5 examines the conceptual changes concerning state ownership and its political ·mplications. The author is optirnistic about the reform of the state owner- ship system, and mentions the Capital Steel and Iron Corporation (CSIC) as a suc- cessful example (pp. 106-107). However, it has recently been revealed that the CSIC's so-called success was largely a result of the support extended to it by the central govemment for political reasons. The author pays little attention to the grave difficulties involved in the reform of the state ownership system.

Chapter 6 argues that the rise of the private economy, a result of the CCP's pragmatic economic policy, reflected a major ideological change, as privatization was least compatible with the CCP's fundamental ideologicaI principles. It is described how the "conservatives" or "hard-liners" opposed the reform by stressing the negative consequences of the private economy. However, neither they nor the so-called re- formers were able to offer effective solutions.

Chapter 7 deals with "The Distribution Issue in the Economic Reform". It shows that as egalitarianism proved detrimental to economic development, the CCP sought to pursue economic efficiency at the expense of dístributional equality. Deng Xiaoping's "rich first" policy led to partial success in the early stage of reform, but then "the emerging differentials became so tangible in 1987 and 1989 in daily life [···] that serious resentment arose in Chinese society"(p. 190). As we know, this became the most important cause for the Tiananmen Incident of 1989. The CCP has been reluctant to undertake the reform of the political system necessitated by the economic reform.

In Chapter 8, the author concludes that China's leadership will continue in two contradictory directions: on the one hand, the aggressive practice of capitalism, and on the other hand, insistence on fundamental ideological principles for the sake of political iself-legitimation. Chen discusses three possible scenarios for China's post-Communist development: I) the capitalist scenario, in which privatization is regarded as the logical solution to economic problems; 2) the social democratic scenario, which represents the emerging societal concem with the balance between equality and efficiency; 3) the so-called "neo-authoritarian'' scenario, in which centrallzed state power is used to promote the market economy.

Although in terms of description, the author's account (mainly based on official views. mainland Chinese academicstudies. and intemal reports) is excellent, he does not really fulfil his aim to examine the political consequences of rural reform, privatization, and changes in income distribution. Other reform issues, such as the role of the Special Economic Zones and foreign investment, are not discussed. Moreover, the empirical material does not go beyond the period 1978-1991. The author states that "it is my belief that, despite the emergence of many capitalist practices since 1992, there have been few theoretical breakthroughs since then" (p. ix). Although the CCP has indeed frozen all important policy debates since the 1989 Tiananmen Incident, the CCP's political legitimacy has in fact sharply declined because of the Incident.

However, these shortcomings do not detract from the fact that this is a well- organized, systematic survey of the changes in CCP ideoiogy and legitimacy during China's economic reform (especia Ily from 1978 through 1989). It makes,7n impor- tant contribution to the field and offers valuable materials for researchers and graduate students on the contemporary Chinese politjcal economy.

(Jing Zhao, Political Science, Universiry of Wisconsin-Madison)