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Journal of Chinese Political Science

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 223–239 | Cite as

What Matters Most in Selecting top Chinese Leaders? A Qualitative Comparative Analysis

  • Jinghan Zeng
Research Article

Abstract

This article analyses the selection criterion of China’s most powerful leading body—the Politburo Standing Committee—by using Qualitative Comparative Analysis and the latest data of the 18th Party Congress in 2012. It finds that age, combined with institutional rules, is one of the dominant factors in deciding the appointment of leaders in 2012, suggesting the significance of institutional rules in today’s elite politics in China. It also finds that candidates’ patron-client ties with senior leaders did play a role but they are not always positive in terms of the career advancement of candidates. Moreover, and perhaps surprisingly, this study finds that powerful family backgrounds do not have positive impacts on promotion at the highest level.

Keywords

Qualitative Comparative Analysis Elite Politics Political Mobility Patronage Faction Performance Power Succession Institutionalization Meritocracy Leadership Selection 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am very grateful to Dr. Clive Gray for helping me with QCA. I also would like to thank Professor Shaun Breslin, Professor Sujian Guo, and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments. My special thanks go to Dr. Renske Doorenspleet for suggesting that I apply QCA. Of course, all mistakes are my own. Replication data are available at https://sites.google.com/site/zengjinghan/data.

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© Journal of Chinese Political Science/Association of Chinese Political Studies 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and International Studies, Social Sciences BuildingUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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