Changing Central-Local Relations in China: Reform and State Capacity

Changing Central-Local Relations in China: Reform and State Capacity

Changing Central-Local Relations in China: Reform and State Capacity

Changing Central-Local Relations in China: Reform and State Capacity

Excerpt

Introduction


Changing Central-Local Relations in China: Reform and State Capacity

Jia Hao and Lin Zhimin

Since the late 1970s, China has witnessed dramatic changes in its central-local relations. While substantial disagreements may exist among students of the Chinese political economy over interpreting the meaning and implications of these changes, few will deny they are one of the most profound results of China's decade-long reform process. The purpose of this study is to provide a comprehensive examination of these changes -- changes that may well determine China's future.

Centralization-Decentralization Dilemma and the Reform

Due to its vast territory, huge population, and social-economic complexity, the handling of China's central-local relationship has historically gone to the very heart of Chinese politics. As early as the Qin (B.C. 221-207) and Han (B.C. 206-A.D. 24) Dynasties, there were heated debates and power struggles over junxianzhi (a unified and centralized political system with local administrative prefectures and counties) versus fengjianzhi (a decentralized enfeoffment systern). Later, the rise and fall of numerous dynasties were also closely related to their handling of the central-local relationship. Since the mid-19th century, a constant theme in Chinese politics had been the decay of the supposedly centralized imperial system on the one hand and the rise of regionalism on the other. Despite the efforts of the late Qing Dynasty to restore central power by . . .

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