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China's Party Congress
Power, Legitimacy, and Institutional Manipulation


  • Author: Guoguang Wu, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Date Published: June 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107442207

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About the Authors
  • Nominally the highest decision-making body in the Chinese Communist Party, the Party Congress is responsible for determining party policy and the selection of China's leaders. Guoguang Wu provides the first analysis of how the Party Congress operates to elect Party leadership and decide Party policy, and explores why such a formal performance of congress meetings, delegate discussions, and non-democratic elections is significant for authoritarian politics more broadly. Taking institutional inconsistency as the central research question, this study presents a new theory of 'mutual contextualization' to reveal how informal politics and formal institutions interact with each other. Wu argues that despite the prevalence of informal politics behind the scenes, authoritarian politics seeks legitimization through a combination of political manipulation and the ritual mobilization of formal institutions. This ambitious book is essential reading for all those interested in understanding contemporary China, and an innovative theoretical contribution to the study of comparative politics.

    • The first systematic study of the institutions of the Chinese Communist Party's National Congress
    • Focuses on the gap between informal politics and formal institutions, contextualizing their interplay
    • Presents a theory of authoritarian legitimization that borrows democratic forms but views them through manipulations of norms
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Why has China had such high popular legitimacy (according to the best available indicators) when its citizenry have had so little to say about how they are governed? In this brilliant, pioneering study of the National Party Congress, Guoguang Wu shows how by shrewdly using 'institutional manipulation' the CCP can present a democratic showcase while keeping the levers of power hidden. Thus the 'hollow' but 'holy' Party Congress actually proves more effective at building popular consensus than the representative legislatures after which it was modeled.' Lowell Dittmer, University of California, Berkeley

    'The book is insightful about the actual operations of the Congress and is filled with useful information on its evolution as an institution, especially since the seventh Party Congress in 1945. It is a good reference for students of Chinese politics.' Zhiyue Bo, The China Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107442207
    • length: 380 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 24 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: China's Party Congress as the theatre of power
    2. Institutions manipulated, legitimacy ritualized: a theory of authoritarian legitimization
    3. 'Meeting for unity and victory': the political art of running the Party Congress
    4. Between political principle and the practice of power: the making and remaking of the Party platform
    5. Norms versus operations: Party constitution in political configuration
    6. Elections as instruments of autocracy: the essence and nuisance of formalistic voting
    7. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Guoguang Wu, University of Victoria, British Columbia
    Guoguang Wu is Professor of Political Science, Professor of History, and Chair in China and Asia-Pacific Relations at the University of Victoria, Canada. He was involved in China's Party Congress as a policy advisor to then Party Chief Zhao Ziyang and a member of the draft group of the Central Committee's report to the Congress. The author, co-author and editor of twenty-two books in both English and Chinese, he is also a contributor to journals including Asian Survey, China Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Contemporary China, the Pacific Review, Social Research, and Third World Quarterly.

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