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  • 1 Non-Resident Fellow at Bruegel, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2 Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
  • 3 Center for Social and Economic Research, Warsaw, Poland
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Abstract

In the 1990s and early 2000s, comparison of transition strategies of China versus those in Central and Eastern Europe raised controversies in the economic and political science literature. However, differences between China and the countries of the former Soviet bloc in their transition strategies resulted not necessarily from a deliberate political choice but from different initial conditions. Low-income and largely rural China, after its first radical step (de-collectivisation of agriculture in 1978), could move more gradually due to its under-industrialisation and retaining administrative control over the economy. The over-industrialised Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and former Soviet Union (FSU) countries where the previous command system of economic management spontaneously collapsed at the end of 1980s, did not have such an option. They had to conduct market-oriented reforms as quickly as they could, with all the associated economic and social pain. Regardless of speed and strategy of transition, almost all previously centrally-planned economies, including China, completed building basic foundations of a market system by the early 2000s although the quality of economic and political institutions and policies differ between the sub-regional groups and individual countries.

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