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Lei, Chilan (1995) Shifting central-provincial relations in China: The politics of fixed asset investment in Shanghai and Guangdong, 1978-1993. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This dissertation argues that an interactive and dialectical model best explains the political economy of central-provincial relations in contemporary China. It rejects the "centrist" perspective of the state capacity paradigm so dominant in the existing literature on central-provincial relations in China. The centrist perspective, it is argued, disables analysts from explaining prevalent bargaining activity and discretionary behaviour by the provinces, other than in its precarious speculation on the disintegration of the Chinese state. It also precludes any hypothetical possibility of qualitative change within the central-provincial relationship, and is biased towards a static interpretation. This dissertation employs a concept of power originated by Talcott Parsons, and discusses the process whereby the Centre and the provinces- Guangdong and Shanghai as two case studies-bargain with and manipulate one another. I thus adopt a rational-choice-institutional approach that emphasizes the coexistence of institutional constraints and actors' choice. The case data shows that whilst provincial discretionary behaviour is heavily influenced by central policies, the provinces are by no means merely the passive respondents to central stimuli. They exercise discretionary behaviour and multiple compliance strategies. The Centre and provinces constrain one another and are locked in a perpetual positive-sum game of bargaining. This dissertation suggests that the central-provincial interface is like all of decision "points" in the Chinese political system-fluid and prone to pertpetual bargaining. However, central-provincial interdependence compels both parties to compromise in order that their own interests can be maximized and advanced. The central-provincial relationship is not, therefore, a zero-sum game. As conflicts between the Centre and the province become more intense since the reform, each is obliged to acknowledge that the only way to enhance its own interests is through recognizing the legitimacy of the other's interests. Normative interactive behaviour in spatial politics is thus forged, and a devolution of power is cast.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04

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