To better understand the policy process in China, one cannot turn to classical ideas of economics. Nor do we get enough adequate answers from institutional theory and it goes beyond the East Asian developmental state theories. Instead we have to turn to political economy and further to what Heilmann and Melton (2013) term: The principal-supervisor-agent model. At the same time, one needs to understand the context: A one-party state grounded in Mao ideology. When looking at policy processing from Mao to today, it is more of a linear process, more of the same, rather than sharp breaks and turns, with completely new ways of formulating and implementing policy, regulations and campaigns. Policy is coming from the top, as a broad set of ideas, and operationalized at the local level.
This analysis start off in China 1949 with a look at the land reforms with a focus on the traits of private property rights – exclusivity, inheritability, transferability and enforcement. Private property rights, that were close to non-existing in the beginning, over time have become more visible and somewhat rigid. How did this development look like and why did it happen?