East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

Nov 17, Junyan Jiang, “Inter-Generational Power Sharing and Institutionalization of Leadership Succession in China”


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society presents


“Inter-Generational Power Sharing and Institutionalization of Leadership Succession in China”

(coauthored with Yang Zhang)

Junyan Jiang

PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science

University of Chicago

5:00-6:30p.m., Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.




The ability to conduct regular, peaceful leadership succession is one of the key features that distinguish democracies from autocracies. Yet China is among a handful of authoritarian regimes that have defied this conventional distinction and managed to institutionalize a transition order that has persisted for several decades. What explained its success? We argue that an important contributing factor is the unique practice of “inter-generational power sharing”, in which political power, especially the authority to appoint key personnel, is divided between the outgoing dictator and his successor. We provide a theory of why this arrangement can mitigate the monitoring and credible commitment problems among the elites and develop predictions about the patterns of power sharing that will emerge. Using a large biographical database of Chinese political elites from multiple levels between 2000-2015, we show that outgoing leaders retained strong control over the immediate appointments of top elites (to the Politburo) even after they formally stepped down, whereas the successor’s influence is concentrated at appointing middle- and lower-level elites (at the provincial and deputy provincial levels). Analyses of topic distribution in a dataset of informal conversations further confirm the centrality of personnel matters in elite interactions.




Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Yan Xu (xuyan@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Xi Song, Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao


This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.