Less than half of the top 500 manufacturing companies in officially communist China are actually state-owned, official media reported Aug. 20. Only 220 of the biggest enterprises in the manufacturing industry are directly controlled by the state, the Xinhua news agency said, citing a survey by the National Bureau of Statistics.
The rest divide themselves between genuinely private companies and a less clear-cut category of collective enterprises, which may involve some measure of government control.
China's pragmatic style of communism has allowed for a significant and growing role for the private sector in recent years. The constitution reflects this, with a 1999 amendment upgrading the private sector to an "essential part" of China's economy. Another constitutional amendment in 2004 consolidated the private sector's status, saying that "legally obtained private property of the citizens shall not be violated."
Controversially, the communist party has sent out similar signals in recent years by allowing capitalists and private entrepreneurs to join its ranks.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006