When the financial crisis unexpectedly hit the high-performing East and Southeast Asian economies in mid-1997, it was widely believed that the People's Republic of China (PRC) would be the next domino to fall. This chapter argues that China's handling of the crisis, and in particular, the country's ability to withstand the crisis, must be understood within the context of its domestic political economy. An important lesson of Mexico's peso crisis of 1994 and the Asian financial crisis was that a sound banking sector is the single most essential element of a healthy financial system. The State Administration for Foreign Exchange (SAFE) approval requirements and the related limitations on foreign participation in PRC equity markets had translated into low levels of portfolio investment. The Chinese authorities significantly intensified the enforcement of exchange and capital controls and moved to reduce circumvention.
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