LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

What do you call a monopoly in China?

A state-owned enterprise.

But you cannot call a state-owned enterprise a monopoly. Not in China.

Challenging the system, Mr. Zhang contends, has been the key to China’s economic success. Today, he says, that would mean reducing the party’s control over important sectors of the economy. Over the past decade, state companies have maintained and expanded control over industries like automobiles, aviation, chemicals, energy, information technology, machinery, metals, steel and telecommunications.

Mainstream criticism of this trend, however, is limited. A propaganda department directive this year explicitly banned the term “monopoly” to describe state-owned enterprises. Journalists say they regularly have articles kept from publication if they discuss the deadening effect of state control over so many industries.


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