Academic journal article China: An International Journal

Political Interest Distribution and Provincial Response Strategies: Central-Local Relations in China after the 17th National Congress of the CPC

Academic journal article China: An International Journal

Political Interest Distribution and Provincial Response Strategies: Central-Local Relations in China after the 17th National Congress of the CPC

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is an assembly that determines current political interests, which inevitably vary between congresses. (1) The outcomes of these assemblies greatly influence resource distribution (2) and the ability of provinces to interact with the central government. (3) Therefore, the distribution of central-provincial political interests must be analysed to determine its impact on the degree to which provinces implemented central government policies after the 17th National Congress of the CPC.

The CPC is the ruling political party in China, controlling the government and the political system. Nominally, the CPC Central Committee (CC) is the highest authority; substantially, however, the Politburo (PB) and the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) are the true authorities. (4) Therefore, for studies of CPC elite politics, members of the CPC CC, the PB and the PBSC are essential indicators. (5) The central-local relationship is one that revolves around interest. (6) In this study, the term political interests refers to the membership and power of the CPC CC, the PB and the PBSC, and represents the relationship between the central government and the local authorities. The substantial meaning of political interests is similar to that of political capital, namely, local governments with political interests have channels to influence the central government's decisions and resource distribution. (7) Social relationships and political institutions are the fundamentals of political capital. (8) Analysis of the jiguandi (place of ancestry origin, PAO) and the jueqidi (place of rise to power, PRP) of social relationships, and the xianzhidi (place of current position, PCP) of political institutions can be employed to evaluate the distribution of political interests in the central and local governments. As different indicators are adopted, existing research can be categorised into three models: the systematic model (PCP), the dual-place model (PAO and PCP) and the triple-place model (PAO, PCP and PRP).

Shirk was a pioneer of the systematic model approach. Using the PCP of CC members as the calculation basis, she analysed central-provincial interactions to explain China's economic reform. (9) However, because the 15th CC installed two CC members in each province, (10) this approach has become invalid. Based on the systematic model, Bo proposed a CC index to assess provincial power. (11) However, this index is flawed because it cannot recognise the importance of each position. (12)

To address the deficiencies of the systematic model, the dual-place model employs a leverage index and includes PAO as a new calculation basis. However, this model is also flawed because it excludes PBSC members in the analysis. This model shows that no relationship exists between political interests and resource distribution. Additionally, the more political interests a province obtains, the weaker it becomes in resisting the policies of the central government. (13) Conversely, the triple-place model, which considers PRP, indicates that a positive relationship exists between political interests and resource distribution. (14) However, this method is also imperfect because it does not consider political transitions.

According to this analysis, the triple-place model has four advantages. First, it proves that a relationship exists between political interests and resource distribution. Second, it includes the CC members, PB members and PBSC members in the analysis. Third, it accentuates the discrepancy in the importance of each position. Finally, it identifies the distribution of provincial political interests. Therefore, the triple-place model is deployed in this study to analyse the distribution of political interests after the 17th National Congress. This study also transitions into unrelated political interests and constructs a behaviour prediction model for provincial policy implementation. …

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