From growth-based to people-centered : how Chinese leaders have modified their governing strategies to sustain legitimacy in the reform era

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2013-12

Authors

Zhang, Wenjie, active 2013

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Abstract

This dissertation analyzes changes in the ruling strategies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the context of economic reforms, beginning in 1978. By employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, this dissertation investigates how Chinese leaders have utilized legitimating strategies, while modifying their governing strategies, in order to a) solidify the population, b) consolidate ruling authority and c) maintain political and social stability. Specifically, this dissertation looks at how Chinese policymakers have developed effective public policies in response to rapidly rising wage inequality, one of the most pressing problems undermining the CCP’s ruling authority. By providing an original estimate of China’s wage inequality and analyzing the government’s response to it, this dissertation provides a unique look at how the CCP has transformed government functions from growth-based to people-centered to meet various social, political and economic challenges. A comparative statistical analysis helps illustrate the philosophical roots and sources of the CCP’s political legitimacy. The technique of Theil Statistics is applied to measure China’s wage inequality during the reform period. A multivariate hierarchical regression analysis is employed to measure the impact of rising inequality on Chinese society. Two models on social welfare system reform are studied in order to understand Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao’s people-centered governing philosophy and the rationale for constructing a service-oriented government.

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