Central-Local Relations in China

  • Xufeng ZhuEmail author


As China is a great power with a large population, area, and gaps in regional development, how to deal with the relationship between the central and local governments has bothered rulers for a long time and attracted the attention of scholars in the field of political science and public management. In general, the central and local relations refer to the basic ones of power and allocation of resources vertically in the state system (Jing et al. 2016: 185). China’s Constitution describes the division of authority between the central and local state organs as follows: “to follow the principle of sticking to the leadership of the central government and giving full play to the initiative and enthusiasm of local governments”. China is characterized by centralization, but from the practical point of view, China’s central and local relations appear more complex.


  1. Cai, Hongbin, and Daniel Treisman. 2006. “Did Government Decentralization Cause China’s Economic Miracle?” World Politics, 58(4): 505–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. China Political Affairs Monitoring Center. 2011. “‘Central Version’ and ‘Local Version’ of Post Exchanges of Cadres”. Leader Decision Information, (20): 22–23.Google Scholar
  3. Choi, Eun Kyong. 2012. “Patronage and Performance: Factors in the Political Mobility of Provincial Leaders in Post-Deng China”. The China Quarterly, 212: 965–981.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chung, Jae Ho. 2016. Centrifugal Empire: Central-Local Relations in China. Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Deng, Xiaoping. 1993. The Central Leadership Must Have the Authority. Selected works of Deng Xiaoping (volume third). Beijing: People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar
  6. Fan, Yongmao. 2015. “The Centre Decides and the Local Pays: Mandates and Politics in Local Government Financial Management in China.” Local Government Studies, 41 (4): 516–533.Google Scholar
  7. Fang, Hongsheng, and Jun Zhang. 2009. “Competition of Local Governments in China, Soft Budget Constraints and the Expansion-biased Fiscal Behavior”. Economic Research, 44 (12): 4–16.Google Scholar
  8. He, Yanling, and Ni Li. 2017. “Competition for Innovation: A New Mechanism of Competition for Local Governments”. Journal of Wuhan University (Philosophy and Social Sciences), 70 (1): 87–96.Google Scholar
  9. Heilmann, Sebastian. 2008. “From Local Experiments to National Policy: The Origins of China’s Distinctive Policy Process”. The China Journal, 59: 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hu, Angang, Xiao Tang, and Zhusong Yang. 2014. Modernization of National Governance in China. Beijing: China Renmin University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Jing, Yuejin, et al. 2016. Contemporary Chinese Government and Politics. Beijing: China Renmin University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Lieberthal, Kenneth. 2004. Governing China: From Revolution through Reform (2nd edition). New York and London: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  13. Jin, H., Qian, Y., and Weingast, B. R. 2005. “Regional Decentralization and Fiscal Incentives: Federalism, Chinese Style”. Journal of Public Economics, 89 (9–10): 1719–1742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mao, Zedong. 1999. “On the Ten Major Relations”, Collected Works of Mao Zedong (Volume 7). Beijing: People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar
  15. Li, Hongbing and Zhou, Li-An. 2005. “Political Turnover and Economic Performance: The Incentive Role of Personnel Control in China”. Journal of Public Economics, 89 (9–10): 1743–1762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li, Zhen, and Yu Lu. 2015. “Selective Mode of (De-)centralization in China – A Case Study of the Vertical Management of Departments and the Reform of Administrative Examination and Approval Authority”. Journal of Public Management, 12 (3): 13–22 + 155.Google Scholar
  17. Li, Zhilan, and Chengli Liu. 2013. “Contemporary China’s Central and Local Relations: Trends, Processes and Their Impact on Policy Implementation”. Foreign Theoretical Trends, (4): 52–61.Google Scholar
  18. Nie, Huihua. 2014. “New Changes in the Relationship between Central and Local Governments”. Theory Studies, (1): 42.Google Scholar
  19. Shih, Victor, Christopher Adolph, and Mingxing Liu. 2012. “Getting Ahead in the Communist Party: Explaining the Advancement of Central Committee Members in China”. American Political Science Review, 106 (1): 166–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Song, Lin. 2013. “Selective Centralization and Transition of State Governance – Based on the Investigation of the Relationship between Central and Local Governments”. Journal of Shaanxi Normal University (Philosophy and Social Sciences), 42 (4): 121–126.Google Scholar
  21. Qian, Yingyi, and Barry R. Weingast. 2011. “China’s Transition to Markets: Market-Preserving Federalism, Chinese Style”. Journal of Policy Reform, 1 (2): 149–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rong, Jingben, et al. 1997. “Political System Reform at County and Township Levels, How to Establish a New System of Democratic Cooperation – Investigation Report on the Operation Mechanism of the People’s Congress System at the County and Township Levels in Xinmi City”. Comparative Economic & Social Systems, (4): 6–28.Google Scholar
  23. Xu, Chenggang. 2011. “The Fundamental Institutions of China’s Reforms and Development”. Journal of Economic Literature, 49 (4): 1076–1151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Zhang, Guang. 2017. “Policy for Division of Power of office and Financial Power in China since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China: Breakthrough or Convention?”. Local Finance Research, (4): 12–18.Google Scholar
  25. Zheng, Yongnian, 2007. De Facto Federalism in China: Reforms and Dynamics of Central-Local Relations. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.Google Scholar
  26. Zhou, Feizhou. 2006. “Ten Years of Tax Distribution System: Institution and Its Impact”. Chinese Social Sciences, (6): 100–115 + 205.Google Scholar
  27. Zhu, Guanglei. 2008. Contemporary Chinese Government Process. Tianjin: Tianjin Peoples Publishing House.Google Scholar
  28. Zhu, Guanglei, and Zhihong Zhang. 2005. “Criticism on ‘Corresponding Duties and Responsibilities for Upper and Lower Levels’”. Journal of Peking University (Philosophy and Social Sciences), (1): 101–112.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM)Tsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations