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On the Absence of Privately Owned, Publicly Traded Corporations in China: The Kirby Puzzle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2010

Extract

In a recent article in this journal, William C. Kirby (1995) chronicled the development of China's Company Law, which was crafted in 1904 to promote industrial development by codifying a commercial code. Among other objectives, the Company Law was aimed at providing institutional support for the emergence of modern legal corporations. Indeed, it was a widespread belief among the Qing reformers of the period that “Modern industrial capitalism … demanded Western corporate structures to do business’ (Kirby 1995, 43). Kirby argued that after numerous revisions it has become clear that the Company Law has failed to promote the emergence of privately owned, publicly traded corporations. Given China's rich commercial tradition, its dramatic post-1978 reforms, and its rapid economic growth over the last two decades, Kirby's finding raises a most puzzling question for China scholars: Why is there not a single privately owned, publicly traded corporation (PPC) in mainland China?

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Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1998

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