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By Robert Benewick, Marc Blecher, Sarah Cook

This quantity adopts a multidisciplinary and comparative method of improvement that brings jointly concerns which are attribute of the lifelong scholarship of Professor Gordon White. those comprise a spotlight at the kingdom, civil society, welfare and globalization.

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Pension reform is a good example of the new challenges. The central government has decided to shift REFORM AND THE ROLE OF THE STATE IN CHINA 35 responsibility for the pensions of the privileged sector of the working class from state-owned enterprises to the local government. This entails local administrations dealing with complex matters of collection, pooling and disbursement. However, many localities lack the skills to manage these funds effectively and with insufficient transparency and regulation many have simply used pension funds as state assets to be invested as they see fit in their pet development schemes.

Not surprisingly reform attempts have been stop-go but by the latter part of the 1990s it was clear that difficult reforms could be delayed no longer. The problem of SOE reform provides a good example of the advantages and disadvantages of delayed reform. Gradualism allowed the non-state sector of the economy to develop alongside that of the SOEs providing alternative employment opportunities for new entrants and for laid-off industrial workers. In the absence of an effective government unemployment scheme, keeping superfluous workers in the SOEs provided an alternative to turning them out onto the streets where they may have formed a reservoir of the politically discontented.

49 This realignment has had a significant impact on the nature of the central and local state. 50 The 1994 fiscal reforms have redressed this situation somewhat. The ratio of the budget to GDP has been raised as well as the ratio of centrally collected revenue to total budget revenue. 51 For the first quarter of 1997, the growth of centrally collected revenue was reported to be on a par with that of locally collected revenue, thus overcoming the initial tendency of the localities only to collect for themselves.

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