Capitalist Accumulation, Contradictions and Crisis in China, 1995–2015

Robert Pauls*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing upon Marxian and regulation theory, this article seeks to identify key dynamics and contradictions of capitalist accumulation in China between 1995 and 2015 and to explain these in their institutional context. To this end, data from national accounts and input-output tables is re-mapped to estimate Marxian categories such as the rates of surplus value and profit. The article demonstrates how the transformation of the wage relation and an increase in the rate of surplus value lie at the core of a predominantly extensive accumulation regime that enabled rapid and uncoordinated growth facilitated by world market integration. In the wake of the global crisis, however, a confluence of contradictions has led to over-accumulation and a decline in profitability, clear symptoms of exhaustion of the accumulation regime that explain the current slowdown under the “New Normal.” The underlying contradictions are rooted in the institutional context of the “Socialist Market Economy,” but especially in the wage relation, which no longer supports sufficient increases in the rate of surplus value or a regular pace of accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-295
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


  • China
  • economic crisis
  • rate of profit
  • rate of surplus value
  • regulation theory
  • wage relation


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