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China Centre Seminar: Talk by Professor Zhu on 'China’s multi-layered state capacity in the context of central-local relations'

When Nov 04, 2019
from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Webb Library, West Court, Jesus College
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China’s multi-layered state capacity in the context of central-local relations

by Professor Zhu Tianbiao for the China Centre Seminar series on Monday 4 November.  The lecture will take place in the Webb Library, West Court, Jesus College from 5.30 – 7.00pm.

How do we perceive and define state power and capacity in large countries like China? Some scholars have characterised China’s development as ‘top-down state-led development with bottom-up entrepreneurial private capital accumulation’. On the national level, no major social or business forces exist that are capable of seriously challenging the state authority. However, since it has long been argued that local development holds the key to China’s overall economic success, the real interaction of state and society occurs at the local level. In China, state-society relations comprise relations among the central government, local governments, and local social/business forces.


To study state capacities in China, it is critical not only to focus on policy areas, but also on the triple relations across policy areas. Professor Zhu will argue that it was the joint force of the international political-economic system and current reform process which produced a particular combination of strong despotic power and weak infrastructural power, i.e. the central state is only able to enforce policy priorities and local government takes care of day-to-day business of China’s development. 

ZHU Tianbiao (B.Econ. Sydney, M.Phil. Cambridge, Ph.D. Cornell) is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Executive Director for the Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences at Zhejiang University. He previously worked in Australian National University, Tsinghua University and Peking University. His teaching and research interests include international and comparative political economy, and political economy of development.