Local Governance Diversity in China

In recent years, new regionalism and the role of sub-national governments has gained increasing scholarly attention. In China, although there is much research on economic diversity, less focus has been on the different governance models of Chinese cities. As different localities face different social challenges, they also develop a variety of strategies and methods to organize local governance and handle relations to local society. For long, local governments, encouraged by the central leadership, have been engaged in developing governance innovations. Such innovations sometimes institutionalize and become a part of the city’s identity and brand. This study compares governance models of Hangzhou and Guangzhou.  Both cities are progressive in terms of governance reform, but in quite different ways. While Hangzhou has actively engaged in developing state initiated governance innovations and channels for citizen participation, Guangzhou has a relatively active civil society and a more independent media. The governance models of the two cities create different opportunities for state-society interaction.


Oscar Almén, PhD, is a research fellow at the Department of Government, Uppsala University where he teaches courses on development studies and methods. He obtained his PhD from Gothenburg University in 2005. His research focuses on political participation, political accountability, social movement, and state-civil society relations in China. Recent publications include ‘Participatory innovations under authoritarianism: Accountability and responsiveness in Hangzhou’s social assessment of government performance’ Journal of Contemporary China (2017); ‘Local participatory innovations and experts as political entrepreneurs: The case of China's democracy consultants’, Democratization (2016); and ‘Only the Party Manages Cadres: limit of Local People's Congress supervision and reform in China’, Journal of Contemporary China, (2013).

The Linkage Strategies, Modes and Mechanisms between the Political Party and Citizens in China’s Single Party Regime

The legitimacy and vitality of all political regimes require the presence of strong linkage relations between citizens and their rulers. Current scholarship has identified different modes and mechanisms of linkage between political parties/politicians and their members/supporters. For instance, Herbert Kitschelt (2010) suggested that democratic linkages could fall into three categories, namely, charismatic linkage, programmatic linkage and clientelist linkage. However, these studies have been almost exclusively focused on linkages in liberal-democratic regimes, with very little attention to their equivalents in autocratic regimes. Meanwhile, most of the analyses of these regimes have been interested either in static political support from below or passive responsiveness from above. They have ignored (or rejected) the process by which authoritarian rulers strategically, progressively and sometimes successfully construct dynamic linkages, by which they can maintain close contact with the masses, mobilize political support, and, thereby, remain responsive to citizen demands and aspirations.

This speech will examine the strategies, instruments, and techniques the CCP has employed to relate and respond to an increasingly complex society with diverse interests and passions. What is the CCP’s concept and understanding of these political linkages? How does it expand and adjust these networks through a variety of institutions, practices, and local innovations? How do citizens perceive of and participate in these linkage mechanisms? Why are some single-party regime more successful in weaving and maintaining these diverse ruler-ruled linkages? Why are some linkage mechanisms more effective than others in a particular country? What effects will these linkage choices and practices have on the survival of non-democracies?

This talk builds on but interrogates previous theories of political linkage in democracies and aims to offer insights into concepts, motives, practices and effects of authoritarian linkage. Hopefully, it will lead to some reflections on the general theory of political representation in different regime types.


Zhongyuan Wang is an Assistant Professor at the Fudan Institute for Advanced Study in Social Sciences of the Fudan University in Shanghai. He previously served as a Lecturer in the program of international studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He has a B.A. degree in political science and economics from Xiamen University and an M.A. degree in political science from Fudan University. He received his Ph.D. in comparative politics and China studies at Leiden University. He was an academic visitor at the University of Oxford and National Taiwan University. His research interests include comparative political institutions, political representation, election studies, political innovation, local politics and governance, and regionalism. His works appear in Journal of Contemporary China, China Information, and etc.

The Consequences of Xi Jinping’s Politics on Environmental Law in China

The environmental issue has been critical for Xi Jinping since his election as General Secretary and Chairman in 2012. To this day, as his power consolidates in the 19th Congress of the CPC, he pledges sustainable development to build a “Beautiful China” and is about to introduce an Environmental Protection Tax Law on January 2018. While the slogans are straightforward, the regulation is complicated. The drafting and implementation of environmental regulation in China can tell us many things about how its policymakers understand rule of law, way of government, and the relationship between the central government and its local levels. In this paper we will analyse some meaningful examples of environmental regulation in order to summarize what has been done in the field since 2012 and to disclose what we should expect to be done in the future. 

Zimbabwean Elite Opinions on the Chinese Model

The talk of adopting the ‘Chinese model of development’ became popular from the year 2000 where African states like Zimbabwe began to shift East and adopted a ‘Look East Policy’. The shift - motivated by frustrations with Western policies of democracy and good governance for development. Economic conditionalities such as sanctions and travel bans were imposed to pressurise rogue states for democratisation. Today, a number of African countries are looking East for motivation on how to expand their economies under the existent political arrangements. China now enjoys a competitive advantage compared to Western states in trade, investment and development (Afrobarometer). China’s infrastructural developments and investments in business, industry, mining and agriculture, on few political conditions has contributed to it’s positive image among African elite. This paper will look at the Chinese model debate from the African leader’s view with particular attention to Zimbabwe: where Chinese ‘development’ has been considered a recipe for disaster or salvation by some. This paper focuses on the views expressed by African leaders - analysing speeches and official documents.

From Challenging the State to Solving Societal Challenges -  The Principal-Agent Dichotomy of Public Goods Provision in China and The Role of Entrepreneurship

In recent years business and social entrepreneurship have assumed a crucial role with regard to solving societal challenges and public goods provision in China. The Chinese government has shifted towards a policy of "differentiated support and control". The relations between different actor groups, most notably government departments, business entrepreneurs and societal entrepreneurs, are fraught by a principal-agent dichotomy with agenda-setting, coordination and information advantage as major challenges. This essay is going to analyze the problem of public goods provision and the ensuing principal-agent dichotomy in China by looking at the issue of environmental pollution. China's recent legal and institutional developments have given important impetus to business and societal entrepreneurs to assume a stronger role in addressing environmental issues, including the possibility of public participation and public interest litigation. Lessons from this pilot will could be drawn for further areas of governance reform.

Social Governance and the Development of Social Work Profession in China

The task of cultivating a professional team of social work is crucial for undertaking the duties of social governance. This study introduces the process and reasons of development in social work fields, which has great influence on social service with a professional model. The study takes an overview on the policy documents that promote this process of progress, and it also uses a number of figures to illustrate the situation of this profession. The barriers and challenge to this discourse are discussed. Problems of this process are explored, such as insufficient human resource and the service quality is low. Meanwhile, regional diversity is obvious, and the institutional and legal support is lacking. The access for the professional social workers to many occupational areas is still very limited. This discussion can help us to get better understanding about the situation of social governance from a particular angle, disclosing the problems of human resource in social administration. On the other hand, it also demonstrates a great potentials and validity of social workers to provide welfare service in China.

In Laotianye We Trust: Chinese Governance in the Big Data Era

Rapid developments in the speed and volume in which data are generated, as well as in the ability to process these data, are creating governmental opportunities to create policies and services that reflect the everyday lived experience of their citizens. Like many other states, China is experimenting with how it is able to leverage and collate the potential of big data in order to better govern its economy, politics, and population. China’s contribution to this global debate is the ‘Social Credit System’ (SCS), an attempt to score every individual person and business across the country based on data generated by both public bodies and private companies. This paper will explore the emerging use of ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘credit’ as a model of governance at the intersection of the online and offline sphere. It will detail the development of the nascent SCS, including case studies of its application, and situate the system within the global context of big data governance.

The Struggle for Glory and the Glory of Struggle: Propaganda for Entrepreneurs and Creating the Integral State

The promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation has been a central aspect of Xi Jinping’s economic policy, as exemplified by the slogan The Masses Should be Entrepreneurial and Innovate (dazhongchuangye, wanzhongchuangxin 大众创业、万众创新). Most research regarding the government’s entrepreneurial policy has been focused on the question of its economic impact, and whether or not this policy will be economically successful. I suggest that economic benefits are not the only kind that entrepreneurial policies might be seen as producing for the government. In addition to economic benefits, bringing college students and recent graduates from all around the country into innovation centers and incubators allows the government to expose them to political education. This allows the government to help direct the narratives regarding the nation and the world that these impressionable young people are shown, helping stabilize a potentially volatile population.