Tackling Chinese upgrading through experimentalism and pragmatism: The case of China’s wind turbine industry

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    This paper examines the development of China’s wind turbine industry, shedding light on the Chinese mode of disruptive industrial upgrading through policy pragmatism and fragmented, experimental governance. Based on a historical analysis of China’s wind turbine industry, the paper highlights three distinct phases, which are all marked by their own inbuilt and potentially self-disruptive impasses and associated crises. In turn, these impasses have forced the Chinese government into radical and flexible interventions, which have spurred on Chinese companies to creatively find new ways to develop and upgrade. The paper illustrates the transformation of Sino–foreign relations by China’s non-linear upgrading approach, particularly during the Chinese wind power industry’s quality crisis, and its development model. It also discusses the implications this examination of China’s approach has for the literatures on China, upgrading, and catch-up. Finally, the paper calls on future studies to enquire further into China’s distinct mode of industrial upgrading and its embeddedness in China’s institutional context.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Current Chinese Affairs
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)7-39
    Number of pages33
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • China
    • Industrial upgrading
    • Self-disruption
    • Wind power
    • Policy experimentation
    • Pragmatic governance
    • Fragmented authoritarianism


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