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How to Get Ahead in China’s Communist Party

- March 23, 2012

Last week, the National Congress of the Communist Party of China  (CCP) removed an important provincial party secretary from office, stirring unrest in China and even suggestions that a coup is in the works.  Dan Drezner analyzes the issue, referencing the American Political Science Review article by John Freeman and Dennis Quinn I blogged about earlier this week. Yet, there is another article (ungated, pdf) in the moST recent American Political Science Review by Victor Shih, Chris Adolph, and Minxing Liu that is even more directly relevant. The authors gather data on promotion and dismissal decisions from past party congresses to examine the correlates of career advancement within the CCP. Their main finding:

[W]e find no evidence that strong growth performance was rewarded with higher party ranks at any of the postreform party congresses. Instead, factional ties with various top leaders, educational qualifications, and provincial revenue collection played substantial roles in elite ranking, suggesting that promotion systems served the immediate needs of the regime and its leaders, rather than encompassing goals such as economic growth.

I know too little about the general issue of cadre promotion or the details of the Bo Xilai case (although it appears to have been about factions from the reporting I have seen) to comment any further, yet this strikes me as important research.