Patronage and Power: Local State Networks and Party-State Resilience in Rural China

Patronage and Power: Local State Networks and Party-State Resilience in Rural China

Ben Hillman

Language: English

Pages: 216

ISBN: 0804789363

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Power and Patronage examines the unwritten rules and inner workings of contemporary China's local politics and government. It exposes how these rules have helped to keep the one-Party state together during decades of tumultuous political, social, and economic change.

While many observers of Chinese politics have recognized the importance of informal institutions, this book explains how informal local groups actually operate, paying special attention to the role of patronage networks in political decision-making, political competition, and official corruption. While patronage networks are often seen as a parasite on the formal institutions of state, Hillman shows that patronage politics actually help China's political system function. In a system characterized by fragmented authority, personal power relations, and bureaucratic indiscipline, patronage networks play a critical role in facilitating policy coordination and bureaucratic bargaining. They also help to regulate political competition within the state, which reduces the potential for open conflict. Understanding patronage networks is essential for understanding the resilience of the Chinese state through decades of change.

Power and Patronage is filled with rich and fascinating accounts of the machinations of patronage networks and their role in the ruthless and sometimes violent competition for political power.













enterprises and by promoting private industry that could be taxed. Scholars working in these regions identified a “developmental” local state motivated to provide the conditions necessary for further industrialization and economic development.1 Subsequent case studies of China’s agricultural hinterland identified a very different type of local state. Without access to proceeds from industrialization, many rural counties and townships preyed on farmers by raising taxes and fees.2 The hardship

youth and elderly outreach activities supported by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.6 Special-purpose funds are usually allocated to specific bureaus for specific projects. In 2011, for example, Laxiang County was allocated a grant to earthquake-proof rural houses. A total of 4,150 houses were to receive a combined total of 15.5 million yuan for retrofitting and reconstruction.7 The funds were provided by the central government’s Construction Bureau for management and implementation by county

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