In this chapter I will discuss several problems that are at the heart of the major goal of this book: to compare the consequences of New Public Management (NPM) in China and in the West. The first difficulty arises from the fact that in both areas market mechanisms are at work, and for some scholars China is practically evolving towards a capitalist economy (even if in the form of state capitalism). As this way of seeing the two areas is not, in my opinion, satisfactory, the first point to be discussed is what we mean by ‘capitalism’, ‘market’ and ‘market economy’. Second, and closely linked to the first point, what is the relation between capitalism, neoliberalism and its armed wings: the ‘Washington consensus’ and NPM? This is an important point as the Chinese leadership, and a large part of the Chinese intelligentsia, has clearly refuted the idea that China should conform to the criteria of the ‘Washington consensus’ and, as a consequence, also to NPM. Third, it will be necessary to justify the typology that will be at the heart of the comparison made in the fifth chapter between several capitalist states. This typology comprises two types: strong NPM and weak NPM. Considering that practically all the countries that at the beginning of the 1980s were not NPM countries, but have become NPM countries (of either the strong or the weak variant) after 1980, I will also use the intermediary type of the in-transition-to-NPM countries. Fourth, I will have to discuss the choice of the dependent variables (employment, income, poverty, crimes and health) as well as the difficulties in measuring these variables, their reliability, and the lack of data in some cases. Finally, we will need some explanations about what I mean by comparison between China and Western countries.