China Research Workshop 中国研究讲座 RSVP
Friday, May 17, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. | GPS Dean's Conference Room (Second Floor, Building 1)

"Autonomy in Autocracy: Explaining Ethnic Policies in China"

Presenter: Chao-Yo Cheng, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, University of California Los Angeles

Abstract: Why do autocrats grant institutional accommodation to subordinate ethnic groups? With a focus on post-1949 China, I argue that ethnic local autonomy allows the central leader to establish his supremacy over subnational political forces while countering his rivals within the central leadership. Drawing from innovative measures of elite connectedness and unique historical administrative records, I find that Beijing is more likely to designate EATs when the central leadership is divided. I also discover that a province is more likely to see the naming of ethnic autonomous prefectures and counties when the provincial Party secretary is closely tied to the governor. In contrast, the central government is significantly less likely to designate ethnic autonomous territories in a province when the provincial Party secretary enjoys a strong connection with the central leader. Furthermore, drawing an original dataset of district and county cadres, I demonstrate that EATs have been more likely to see Party heads appointed from the local non-Han community than their non-EAT counterparts. Party heads in EATs are also less likely to have worked with their respective provincial Party secretaries before being promoted. Altogether, these findings are consistent with the notion that EATs serve as enclaves within which provincial leaders only have limited governing power, as the central government not only dictates the designation of EATs but also oversees the selection of ruling non-Han cadres in them.


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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