Meg Rithmire’s book, Precarious Ties: Business and the State in Authoritarian Asia, compares state-business relations in China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It explains why initial partnerships for growth between political and business elites disintegrated into corruption and financial instability in all three countries, and why some patterns of corruption and cronyism are more destructive for economic and political stability than others. She argues that China is similar to Indonesia in many ways, with endemic distrust between business and political elites creating a form of “mutual endangerment.” In both countries, fraud, asset expatriation, and cronyism reflect mutual enmeshment in illegal dealings to guarantee safety. In recent years, the CCP has pursued discipline of the private sector that seems to borrow from Malaysia, especially the party-state in corporate governance roles.
In an interview conducted on January 18, 2024, Meg Rithmire, in conversation with Yeling Tan, focuses on the relationship between business and the state in China.