Reorganizing China: A study of China's restructurings of government since 1978

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Jeff Straussman


China, Government, Political reform, Deng Xiaopeng

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | History | Political Science | Public Administration | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The study is to examine major restructurings of government that occurred since 1978, with special emphasis on the causes and the patterns of the changes. It focuses on the central level, especially on the changes within the Party-state system in China. Various forces that have shaped the changes are thoroughly examined, and the logic and the pattern of the changes are discerned. By examining the restructurings of the Party-government system, it argued that the gradual change in Chinese governmental institutions has moved the country away from a highly centralized, hierarchical and strongly integrated political structure. Instead, China has shifted towards a two-way paradoxical combination, which has shown a direction of either centralization and decentralization or integration and differentiation of vertical and horizontal political structures and functions, even though the proper line and function have never been clear throughout this uneven process.

It argues that the restructuring of the Chinese government is a problem-driven process. Since 1978, the reorganization has been driven by pre-existing problems and the created problems that emerged with social change during the process of economic reform. The government restructuring was shaped by China's past experiences and forces within Chinese institutions. Two fundamental forces were influential in defining the government's institutional changes. On one hand, the domestic and international environment forced government institutions to adjust and adapt to the changing situation in reforming China's over-centralized political structure and obsolete planned economy. On the other hand, the powerful restraints within the pre-institutional arrangements, and their relationship (Party-government relation, central-local relation, government-enterprise relation, intra-governmental agencies relation) with political culture, leadership and different ideas have also shaped the fundamental pattern.


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