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Fares, Tomaz Mefano (2022) Power Struggle and Capitalist Transnationalisation of China’s Soybean Downstream Complex. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis examines the power struggle between the different class fractions involved in the capitalist expansion of China’s soybean downstream complex since the late 1980s. Drawing from the historical changes in the sector, I analyse through an actor-centred approach the accumulation strategies and political action of relevant soybean processors and traders. These enterprises are related to five different fractions of the bourgeoisie, which compete to secure and promote their interests by forming hegemonic alliances and influencing the state bureaucracy in their favour. Their disputes and political nexus with different bureaucratic segments put into question the idea of a stable and homogeneous state in China. Instead, I argue that state institutions are contentious spaces involving processes of wealth and capital accumulation. Moreover, I highlight China’s integration into global circuits of soybean production and consumption through the action of each capitalist class fraction at home and abroad. By highlighting class agency beyond domestic borders, I combine Marxist state analyses with international political economy, filling a gap scarcely explored in the literature. Through empirically rich research based on extensive primary data, I find that new intercapitalist disputes since the 1990s’ soybean import liberalisation propelled the rise of a globalised fraction of capital from within the state sector. This class fraction, which I call the transnationalised state bourgeoisie, represented mainly by China Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), became prominent during the current Xi Jinping administration. COFCO has changed the sector’s economic and institutional settings by collaborating with foreign financiers, speculating over soybean price fluctuations, and operating on deregulated capital markets overseas. Nevertheless, COFCO’s rise entailed a constant power struggle with rival capitalist class fractions. In this thesis, I analyse each moment of this struggle while placing it in conversation with the literature on agrarian change and Chinese studies, including debates on rural industrialisation, state capitalism, food security, and outbound agricultural investment.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
Keywords: China, soybean, capital accumulation, inter-capitalist disputes, transnationalisation
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Leandro Vergara-Camus
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2022 10:30

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