In recent years, China has made remarkable achievement in economic reform and development. My dissertation discusses the effects of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) formal personnel management and informal politics on Chinese reform and development. It answers the questions on why China succeed in economic reform, why the non-public sectors can break through the barriers of communist ideology and old institutions to play an increasingly important role in China’s economic development, and what the roles of political institutionalization are in promoting economic reform performance. Previous studies often exaggerate the intensity of ideological confrontation within the CCP’s power center and overstate the achievements of China’s institutional evolution. Instead, this dissertation argues that the it is the CCP’s informal politics that can help to improve the economic reform performance. In the absence of strong rule-of-law institutions to sustain the market economy, the CCP’s organizational resources enable the top leaders to manipulate their political factions. The CCP’s top leaders thus can induce the non-public investors to follow the party’s economic development goals. In this case, the CCP’s informal politics may not result primarily in inefficiency or chaos. Instead, it may be a driving force for informal cooperation between the party officials and private entrepreneurs, which makes well-connected provinces especially attractive destinations for private investment.

In addition to Chinese politics, I study comparative authoritarianism and post-Cold-War  democratization. For instance, one unpublished work talks about the effects of economic openness on developing countries’ relative power and democracy level. Theoretically, free trade strengthens the national competitiveness of developing countries relative to Western democracies, which may offset external democratizing pressure imposed by the West. Through this way, globalization obstructs democratization in developing countries. Based on panel data of 117 developing countries from 1992 to 2016, this study applies a two-equation model to prove that, first, openness has mild but significantly positive effects on the economic power of developing countries, and, second, that the relative power has negative and statistically significant effects on the level of democracy, which suggests that economic openness does not necessarily generate expected effects on democracy because economic openness may also strengthen authoritarian competitiveness. In another unpublished work, I discuss how the positive effects of free trade on economic growth are contingent on regime types. It suggests that non-democratic states may outperform democracies in promoting growth under the help of post-Cold-War globalization. Along with the previous articles on Chinese politics, these studies jointly show why and how authoritarian regimes can preserve their power through promoting economic growth. Overall, the basic strategy is to utilize highly centralized power to regulate domestic politics, usually through informal institutions, and involve into economic integration to share global benefits.

Please read my publications here.


Bolton 614, 3210 N. Maryland Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211

Contact Me