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China Scholarship Digest #7

A monthly list of new China-related academic research.
  • Articles published in January 2022
  • 65 journals scanned
  • 76 articles found from 30 journals

Chinese Studies

Journal of Contemporary China

Many states expend resources on citizenship education. China is no exception. The main goal of this effort is to promote the state's concept of a good citizen. This paper, based on survey data from 2018, finds that the "more years of citizenship education a person endures, the less likely they are to endorse the Chinese state curriculum’s concept of citizenship."

Here is a key data point: "On average, 38.1% of respondents with a high-school education or less selected that good citizens ‘support the Party’ as their first option, while only 26.0% of those with university education or higher did."

This may seem counterintuitive (how can more years of citizenship education leads to less support for the Party?), but its not really. Higher levels of education means more exposure to foreign ideas and critical thinking skills, which makes Party-state propaganda more apparent.

The implications? "The authoritarian leader’s dilemma is that higher education is necessary in a global marketplace as nations move up the value chain; thus, education becomes a double-edged sword. Namely, as China grows out of the middle-income trap, it will inevitably require more educated workers. This will present an increased challenge to a state-led conception of citizenship."
"The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been." This famous opening line of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms speaks to the centrifugal and coalescing forces that local and central authorities have faced throughout Chinese history.

"This study argues that the current Chinese administration has attempted to institutionalize center-local relations by reforming key party-state entities, with the aim of mitigating the centralization-decentralization cycle driven by ad hoc political mobilization. On the fiscal front, these reforms aim to consolidate budget management, merging national and local tax agencies, limiting local government borrowing, and centralizing expenditure planning. On the rule-enforcement front, the reforms try to empower the judiciary and the disciplinary inspection systems by isolating them from local influences. These changes have systematically strengthened the center’s fiscal control and enhanced local compliance with national policies and rules. However, it remains to be seen whether the new structure will eventually be weighed down by local resistance, incentive issues, or changes in the center’s factional dynamics."

China Quarterly

"This article analyses the role of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the corporate governance of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs)...[it] documents how the CCP has actively formalized its role in Chinese business by embedding itself in the corporate governance structure of SOEs. Through the application of Chinese indigenous administrative corporate governance concepts...the CCP has consolidated its dominance of enterprise decision-making procedures and personnel appointment and created a hybrid, Party-led model of corporate governance. While this hybrid model can secure enterprise compliance, communication with higher state and Party organs, as well as long-term development planning, it is unlikely to help solve SOE efficiency problems and may even undermine other SOE reforms."

The implication of this article – that the CCP while having consolidated its control over SOEs, is undermining SOE reform efficiency – highlights the real cost of tightening Party control. We see this in other areas too where the Party is prioritising control at the expense of other objectives.

Twentieth-Century China

"During the years 1916–1937, a time of critical political disunity for China, statebuilding efforts by central authorities were not the only ones that were significant and worthy of attention. The contributions of local power-holders (warlords) were also crucial. Contrary to the usual depiction of warlords as concerned only with their personal wealth and power, I argue that many had a strong concern for state building. Warlords' achievements were particularly significant in four realms: transportation infrastructure, education, economic planning, and statistics."

Asian Studies

Journal of Contemporary Asia

Asian Studies Review

"Since 1949, ethnic minority nationalism in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has consistently concerned the People’s Republic of China. Most previous studies on nationalism in XUAR focused on organised visible nationalist movements and ignored everyday life, particularly regarding interactions between the government and citizens or between the majority and the minority. This study investigates daily practices of ethnic minority nationalism in XUAR within the framework of everyday nationalism...The article found that members of ethnic minority groups are engaged in a struggle to retain their sense of ethnic identity by resisting state nationalism and expressing antagonism towards Han Chinese in their everyday lives. This study reveals a covert nationalist movement involving almost everyone in XUAR. Ethnic nationalism is central to XUAR society and will continue to shape its social relations."

Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

International Affairs

International Affairs

International Studies Quarterly

"Do more mobile firms pay lower taxes? Conventional wisdom argues that capital mobility creates downward pressure on corporate taxes, as firms can threaten to exit. Nevertheless, empirical findings are highly mixed and hard to reconcile, partly due to a lack of data at the microlevel. Using two comprehensive panel data sets with more than 780,000 Chinese firms over two decades, we find that firms with higher shares of mobile capital pay higher effective tax rates. We contend that this counterintuitive finding results from the strategic interaction between firms and governments. Knowing their vulnerability and sunk cost, firms with more fixed assets were more active in protecting themselves by bribing and colluding with local officials. Meanwhile, officials were more willing to seek bribes from these firms in exchange for tax cuts. In contrast, mobile firms were disadvantaged. Although capital mobility may provide additional bargaining power, firms with fixed assets can overcome this advantage through state–business collusion. Our quantitative and qualitative evidence show that fixed firms paid lower taxes in cities with cozy government–business relations. However, such advantages decreased after the launch of anti-corruption campaigns and in cities with higher fiscal transparency."

Third World Quarterly


Journal of Current Chinese Affairs

Australian Journal of International Affairs

Pacific Review

International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

Journal of Public Affairs


Journal of Democracy

Journal of Politics

Journal of Chinese Governance

Society & Culture

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Chinese Sociological Review

"Competition for educational resources between local citizens and new arrivals in receiving cities can lead to severe school segregation, thereby generating great educational inequality. In this paper, we focus on a special form of segregation in urban China that is based on the holding of a local hukou, which is a crucial criterion for school enrollment. Using data from a nationally representative school-based student panel survey, we find that migrants are disproportionally sorted into low-quality schools, which contributes to a sizeable achievement gap between migrants and locals. We further adopt school and individual fixed effect models to disentangle the influence of peer exposure from that of school quality and find no adverse impact of migrant concentration per se on student outcomes."

Chinese Journal of Communication

International Journal of Cultural Policy


Chinese Economic Studies

China Economic Journal

Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies

China Economic Review

Asia Pacific Business Review

"This paper examines the relationship between China’s changing economy and its global business tax diplomacy. Three trends dominate: China is becoming a net capital exporter, emerging as a major consumer market, and is home to digital giant firms including Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba. The resulting drive to promote both ‘going out’ and ‘bringing in’ foreign direct investment has led China to engage selectively and strategically with Western-led institutions. We show how China variously challenges, defends, and develops alternatives to global tax standards in three cases: global efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance, bilateral tax treaty negotiations, and administrative tax cooperation."

This is another illustration that it is a simplification (and sometimes a counterproductive one) to say that China is challenging the status quo. China is much more than just a challenger to the status quo.

Journal of Asian Economics

Economic and Political Studies

Edited by Adam Ni | code by Katharina Ni