Open Colloquium@GEAS: The Sorcerer and the Apprentice: China’s state capacity and the implementation of rural urbanization policies

09.07.2018 | 14:00

Elena Meyer-Clement (Freie Universität Berlin)


Most studies on China’s state capacity treat the capacity of the central state to control its local agents as a key issue. Especially in an enormous country like China, local governments are without doubt an important extension of the central state to achieve its aims, be it in tax extraction or policy implementation. However, it would be misleading to restrict the treatment of the central government to its role as designer of institutions constraining local officials’ behavior. This talk takes China’s policies of urbanization and village concentration in the countryside as a case for emphasizing alternative governance tools at the central government’s disposal to influence local policy implementation. It particularly focuses on image changes, institutional changes in neighboring policy subfields and the diversification of local implementation agents.

Central state interference in the implementation of rural urbanization policies became necessary when local governments converted rural urbanization policies to gain easy access to rural land for urban development. This resulted in increasing rural tension over village demolition and relocation. The surprising finding of this research is that the central government does not constrain local cadre behavior much, but chooses to steer and thereby ease the continuation of the implementation process.

Elena Meyer-Clement is an assistant professor of China Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, where she teaches on Chinese politics and society. Her research focuses on China’s authoritarian governance, urbanization, land politics and cultural politics. Elena has a doctoral degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Tuebingen and an MA in Chinese Studies and Political Science from the University of Hamburg. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the German research network „Governance in China“. In her current research project funded by DFG, she investigates China’s steering capacity for achieving the integration of urban and rural administrations, economies and societies.

Zeit & Ort

09.07.2018 | 14:00

Room K.18 (basement)
Graduate School of East Asian Studies
Hittorfstr. 18
14195 Berlin

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