Yuen Yuen Ang on Xi Jinping, the Party bureaucracy, and authoritarian resilience


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This week on Sinica, Kaiser welcomes back University of Michigan political scientist Yuen Yuen Ang, who discusses a recent piece in the Journal of Democracy titled “How Resilient is the CCP?” The essay examines why Xi Jinping surprisingly seeks to retain a competent and selectively adaptive bureaucracy, despite his personalist style of rule

3:51 – Summarizing debates on Chinese governance in the current China watcher field

8:43 – Defining the concept of institutionalization and contextualizing it to China

13:39 – Explaining Xi’s bureaucratic objectives: maintaining competence but limiting autonomy

18:57 – Remaining areas of autonomy for China’s state bureaucracy

22:11 – Key areas where Xi weakened bureaucracy

26:08 – Institutionalization prior to the Xi era

29:00 – Main sources of resilience and threat under Xi’s new model for authoritarianism

31:45 – Fundamental difference between Mao and Xi

34:52 – The revival of state bureaucracy and technocrats after Mao’s death

40:13 – How do we understand the tension between expertise and ideology in Xi’s governance agenda?

46:15 – Historical roots of technocracy in the Chinese government

49:09 – The CCP’s technocratic bureaucracy as an integral source of resiliency

A complete transcript of this podcast is available on TheChinaProject.com.


Yuen Yuen: Chinese drama series Zǒuxiàng gònghé 走向共和 (Towards the Republic); and  Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire by David Remnick

Kaiser: Children of Earth and Sky; A Brightness Long Ago and All the Seas of the World a historical fantasy novel trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay