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Politics of digital development: Informatization and governance in China

Dai, Xiudian


Xiudian Dai


Gillian Youngs


The much-debated rise of the post-war Japanese economy, described as a ‘miracle’, followed by the emergence of other Asian tigers such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong in the 1980s and onward, served as empirical evidence supporting the developmental state argument championed by Chalmers Johnson (1982: 3). Differing from a regulatory state, such as the US, that promotes competition and protects consumer interest through regulations and market, the developmental state industrializes and leads the industrialization drive, thus taking on developmental functions (Johnson 1982). Johnson’s developmental state theory is seen ‘as a causal argument linking interventionism with rapid economic growth’(Woo-Cumings 1999: 2). A developmental state is said to be ‘staffed by agents of change who are unified by a common purpose and technical orientation’, thus ‘able to develop and implement a program of national development’ (Chan et al. 1998: 2). The developmental state is characterised first by the absolute priority placed on economic development, second the pivotal role played by the state in coordinating government bureaucracy, and third a strong desire and usually high level of state intervention in the economy (Douglass 1994). Others are less convinced of the effectiveness of the developmental state’s interventionist approach towards indigenous innovation and its capacity to speed up technological development (Appelbaum et al. 2011). As an East Asian authoritarian state, China generally falls into the category of developmental state. Questions this raises include: does the developmental state help us understand the political economy of China’s development; and moreover, can the developmental state theory derived from East Asian, especially Japanese, experience of industrialization be extended to the information age?


Dai, X. (2013). Politics of digital development: Informatization and governance in China. In G. Youngs (Ed.), Digital world: connectivity, creativity and rights (34-51). Routledge.

Online Publication Date Jun 14, 2013
Publication Date Jun 7, 2013
Pages 34-51
Book Title Digital world: connectivity, creativity and rights
Chapter Number 2
ISBN 9780203767061
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Jan 1, 2013