Chinese state capitalism in the contemporary food regime

Chinese state capitalism and neomercantilism in the contemporary food regime: contradictions, continuity and change

Abstract: A significant proportion of critical agri-food literature has, to date, focused on the uneven relations of power between the Global North and the Global South, and the neoliberal characteristics of the corporate food regime. This literature has often overlooked the nuances in varieties of capitalism, particularly in East Asia. China is re-emerging as a powerful state actor in an increasingly multipolar global food system. It is also an important hub of capital, facilitating agribusiness mergers and acquisitions, as well as new East–South and South–South flows of agri-food trade, technology and capital. This paper aims to contribute to understanding state-led capitalism in China and neomercantilist strategies in the agri-food sector. The paper provides a critical analysis of a case study of China's state owned agri-food and chemical companies ‘going global’. It contends that the current food regime is in a period of transition or interregnum – a period of fluidity separating the continuity of successive regimes. Arguably, the analytical contours of a contemporary food regime in transition cannot be adequately comprehended without recognising the incipient importance of state-led capitalism and neomercantilism, and how contemporary socio-political and economic dynamics are reshaping relations of power in the global political economy of food.

Keywords: global political economy, China, food regime, multipolarity, state capitalism, neomercantilism

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Published 18. May 2018 - 9:59 - Updated 18. May 2018 - 11:01