A study of the applicability of policy making theories in post-Mao China (1978-1995)
To examine the applicability of a range of policy making theories and models, which created by Western scholars, to the practice of post-Mao China is significant in view of what follows. First, to explore to what extent they are applicable to interpret China's practice is beneficial for both absorbing the useful elements from them and discovering and understanding the general features of China's policy making process. Second, particularly, in the post-Mao period, some remarkable changes in China's policy-making pattern have ended a period of stagnation which had lasted for nearly two centuries, and started a course of rejuvenation characterised by rapid economic growth and social prosperity. Thus, these changes and development are well worthy of study with the assistance of above-mentioned theories and models. Aiming at exploring the applicability of these theories and models and how and to what extent these changes occurred and influenced China's policy making processes in all major aspects including policy makers, motivation, policy-making methods, political environment and institutions, this thesis studied the development course (1978-1995) of China's Special Economic Zones (SEZ), which was an important programme of China's reform and opening-up strategy. In doing so, the thesis adopted a method that probes the major features, changes and development of the policy making process in post-Mao China, through examining the applicability of some selected policy making theories and models in China's practice. These selected theories and models consist of those concerning how policy is made, and those relating to how policy should be made. The above examination achieved two goals, which include (a) demonstrating the extent to which each of these theories and models can be used to observe and analyse Chinese policy making practice respectively and their reasons as well, and (b) obtaining the main findings of the thesis about China's policy making process in the post-Mao period as below. (1) Although Marxism was still the fundamental guiding thought of China's policy making, a great flexibility had been adopted, which enabled a series of new policies to be made in last two decades. (2) The twin approaches of incrementalism and pragmatism were the foundation of China's policy-making mechanism, which powerfully promoted its successful operation. (3) The rise of a pluralist tendency significantly influenced China's policy process, which included the increasing involvement of the non-CPC (Communist Party of China) or non-government political and social forces. (4) Political elites continued to dominate China's policy-making process, and this central role was much more prominent than it was in other modern countries. (5) Existing institutions were decisive in shaping China's policy-making mode, by determining the power structure and the power relations within which the policy-making actions taken place.