Divide-and-Conquer Strategy and Political Sociology of the Dictator’s Commitment Power in China

  • Hans H. TungEmail author
Part of the Politics and Development of Contemporary China book series (PDCC)


This chapter extends the authoritarian institutions literature by showing that the dictator’s commitment ability is critical to whether he will be able to disrupt the elite’s collective actions to resist changes and reforms. Specifically, this chapter develops a conceptual framework for understanding the dictator’s commitment power in China’s political context, and also solves the puzzle about the timing of change by comparing Hu’s and Xi’s political tactics. Compared to Hu, the fact that Xi was able to come up with an unprecedented package for enforcing the anti-corruption campaign—ranging from the level of cadres who were purged to the scope of institutional changes that were introduced—enhanced dramatically his commitment power, which then allowed him to play the divide-and-conquer strategy and bring changes to China’s authoritarian institutions. Ultimately, the analysis completes the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle about how Xi was able to pull off the institutional engineering to tame the dictator’s growth curse.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science/Center for Research in Econometric Theory and ApplicationsNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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