China in Global Value Chains: Implications for Industrial Policy and Development

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Jiang, Chun


Gereffi, Gary

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Rapid technological advances and liberal trade regimes permit functional reintegration of dispersed activities into new border-spanning business networks variously referred to as global value chains (GVCs). Given that the gains of a country from GVCs depend on the activities taking place in its jurisdiction and their linkages to global markets, this study starts by providing a descriptive overview of China’s economic structure and trade profile. The first two chapters of this paper demonstrate what significant role GVCs have played in China’s economic growth, evident in enhanced productivity, diversification, and sophistication of China’s exports, and how these economic benefits have propelled China’s emergence as the world’s manufacturing hub in the past two decades. However, benefits from GVC participation – in particular technological learning, knowledge building, and industrial upgrading – are not automatic. What strategies would help Chinese industries engage with GVCs in ways that are deemed sustainable in the long run? What challenges and related opportunities China would face throughout the implementation process? The last two chapters of this paper focus on implications of GVCs for China’s industrial policy and development. Chapter Three examines how China is reorienting its manufacturing sector toward the production of higher value-added goods and expanding its service sector, both domestically and internationally; while Chapter Four provides illustrative policy recommendations on dealing with the positive and negative outcomes triggered by GVCs, within China and beyond the country’s borders. To the end, this study also hopes to shed some light on the lessons and complexities that arise from GVC participation for other developing countries.





Jiang, Chun (2016). China in Global Value Chains: Implications for Industrial Policy and Development. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

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