Working Paper
Russian Transition - Chinese Reforms

A Comparative View

The paper compares the Russian transition with the Chinese reforms. The concept and implications of 'transition' differ from those of 'reform'. Transition in its systemic understanding is considered as a change of the system, a shift to a new one. Reform, on the other hand, is a process which takes place within the same system. In the final analysis, they may be motivated by similar factors and can result in systemic changes. They also have a certain similarity in the sense that deliberate policy actions are needed for their implementation, requiring the active participation of government institutions. The institutional credibility and efficiency in the respective countries may, therefore, have are important influence on the outcome. Both processes depend also on the initial institutional conditions, macro- and micro economic patterns. In the burgeoning professional literature on the comparison of China and Russia, different issues have been raised, and the focus has been more on the institutional differences, the character of the process, the policies and the instruments than on the socio economic goals and outcomes. While the comparative evaluation of the success of 'transition and of the 'reforms' in a comprehensive way would require not only more precise data and well defined indicators, but also more historical perspective, in all probability one can state with relative safety that, so far, the achievements of these two very important countries of the world in the implementation of the changes have been different, whether measured in the growth of GDP and trade, in the costs and benefits for the people, in contributions to structural improvements and to the increase of international competitiveness. China proved to be more successful with reforms implemented since the late 1970s. It will be one of the tasks of the project to study the causes in depth and also to look at their future consequences in shaping the transformation of domestic life and global role of the two countries.