China Leadership Monitor

Chambers of Commerce in Wenzhou and the Potential Limits of "Civil Society" in China

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wenzhou is famous for its thriving private economy. Less well known is the growth of chambers of commerce and other trade associations there. These organizations are changing the structures by which China is governed and policy is made. Chambers of commerce have done much to promote quality standards within industry and maintain Wenzhou's competitiveness. Though these groups have brought about new forms of state-society accommodation, they have not challenged party rule. On the contrary, they are another manifestation of the emergence of a new political-economic elite which broadly agrees on many issues.