From an article by Marshall I. Goldman and Merle Goldman in Foreign Affairs (Spring 1988):

Some argue that because of its history and culture, China is more open to amarket-type approach than the Soviet Union. This is a subject of enormous dispute, including whether or not one should even make such generalizations. Yet the fact that the reform process has been much more spontaneous in China -- beginning at the grass roots even before or simultaneous with proposals for reform -- and that it took root among the masses much more quickly than it has in the Soviet Union suggests that however it is defined, China may be a more receptive environment for economic reform than the Soviet Union. In China the peasants in particular, but even the workers and party cadres, have benefited from the reforms, especially from the availability of consumer goods.

Soviet economic reforms so far exist primarily as policy statements with few concrete results to show. Given the capital-intensive needs of Soviet society, it will be at least five or six years before {Mikhail} Gorbachev can point to significant improvements in the supply of consumer goods and housing to justify his reforms. Without noticeable . . . improvement in the well-being of their citizens, neither the Soviet Union nor China will be able to sustain {its} economic reforms.

The nature of economic development in this high-technology era also suggests that China, not the Soviet Union, may stand the better chance of transforming itself into a modern competitive economy, despite its lower level of economic development. . . . {I}n addition to cultural and historic advantages, it also has the demonstration effect of the stunning economic growth of its immediate neighbors and cultural cousins -- Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.