CCP Says China’s Market Unification Policy Does Not Mark Return to Centrally Planned Command Economy

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The flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has published an opinion piece on China’s market unification policy, seeking to assuage concerns about the potential economic fallouts.

On 10 April the CCP Central Committee and the State Council jointly released the “Opinions on Accelerating the Establishment of a National, Unified Large Market” (中共中央 国务院关于加快建设全国统一大市场的意见), in a bid to “elevate the establishment of a unified national market to a comprehensive and strategic height.”

Chinese state-owned media has since sought to clarify the significance of the policy, and in particular concerns that it means a return to a centrally planned economy.

An opinion piece published by the CCP’s People’s Daily on 26 April states that the policy seeks to “unify market systems and regulations, break down local protections and market divisions, clear out key blockages restraining economic circulation, expedite the smooth flow of commodities, factors of production and resources on an even grander scope; and accelerate the creation of a unified national market with fair competition that is fully open.”

The opinion piece by Wang Zhen (王震) sought to dispel concerns that the new policy marks an effort by Beijing to return to a command economy.

“Recently, there have been certain voices on the market concerned that the establishment of a national unified market is the return of a planned economy,” Wang wrote. “For example, there are concerns that big data and other forms of technology are the ‘omnipotent hand’ of a planned economy, and that under a unified market the central government will call all the shots, in the same way as a planned economy.

“A national unified market and a centralised, unified planned economy are two fundamentally different things however.

“In today’s world the scarcest resource is markets…the establishment of a unified, open, competitive and orderly market system is the foundation for markets playing a decisive role in resource allocation, and is a fundamental support for the establishment of new development conditions.”

Wang also sought to address concerns about the potential for worsening monopolies under a national unified market, as well as adverse impacts on private business.

“Some opinion believes that the establishment of a unified market will make it easier for new monopolies to emerge, in particular Internet platforms that can very easily achieve scale,” he writes.

“A unified market will firstly be of benefit to expunging administrative monopolies, and also play a positive role in opening up those competitive operations of natural monopolies.

“There are also people concerned that regional industries and small and medium-sized enterprises will be shocked by the removal of local protections and regional barriers…SME’s will benefit from the maintenance of a unified fair and competitive order, and the further removal of some monopoly behaviours will also be of benefit to more SME’s entering a greater number of industries.”