China Research Workshop 中国研究讲座 RSVP
Friday, May 10, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. | GPS 3106 (Ground level conference room)

"The Political Beliefs of Chinese Officials"

Presenter: Greg Distelhorst, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto (Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, Rotman School of Management)

Abstract: What are the stated beliefs of officials in China’s single-party regime? Can these authoritarian elites express different views on policy, and if so, do their disagreements reflect deeper ideological orientations? We study these questions with an original survey of local government officials in China, focusing on their views about the economy and rule of law. The median respondent expressed support for ‘law-abiding interventionism’— with the government both deeply involved in the economy and constrained by law. Yet the median view is not a consensus. In principal component analyses, we show that disagreements between officials are organized into loosely coherent individual ideologies surrounding support for markets and attachment to legal process. Support for markets and for law are largely independent of one another, and these ideological positions also show a generational gap: younger officials express greater support for markets and attachment to law. Nationalistic attitudes are correlated with state intervention in the economy, but not attachment to law. Benchmarking these attitudes against a survey of ordinary Chinese citizens, citizens expressed greater support for markets than officials, except in real estate price controls.


CRW provides a forum for the presentation of original research by China scholars from around the country in social science and humanities, sponsored by the Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China. To view archive and upcoming workshops list, visit:
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