Is China’s model of SEZ-led development viable? A call for smart replication

Jan Knoerich, Liliane Mouan, Charlotte Goodburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


While China’s experience of using special economic zones (SEZs) for advancing economic development is a model increasingly adopted in other developing countries, the processes involved in replicating this model elsewhere and the outcomes of such replication remain little understood. This review article’s nested examination of three relevant strands of literature and two case studies of India and Ethiopia indicates that successful replication of China’s SEZ-led development would involve deliberate processes of adaptation from the original model. Replication must be “smart,” by taking into account the temporal, systemic, and other discrepancies between the Chinese model and the replicating country; replicating the benefits of China’s approach whilst
avoiding the drawbacks; and maximising the positive effects of direct Chinese involvement and investments while reducing negative repercussions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-262
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Current Chinese Affairs
Issue number2
Early online date24 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

/This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (


King's Together Fund


  • China
  • Chinese international investments
  • industrialisation
  • special economic zones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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