Fewsmith Publishes Article on China’s Balances, Norms, and Institutions

Joseph Fewsmith, Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, published an article in The China Quarterly on the Chinese Communist Party and the longevity of the country’s political institutions. 

In the article, titled “Balances, Norms and Institutions: Why Elite Politics in the CCP Have Not Institutionalized,” Fewsmith notes that institutionalization has not been the focus of China’s recent leaders. Instead, since the leadership of Deng Xiaoping beginning in 1978, China’s leadership has sought to focus power on the individual level. This allows for more control over different facets of government and the potential to facilitate a lasting legacy. These ideas are also central to Fewsmith’s latest book, Rethinking Chinese Politics.

From the abstract:

A close look at the four leaders of China since 1978 reveal that institutions have remained weak. Of much greater importance have been balances that reflect the informal distribution of power and norms that express agreed-upon Party procedures. Of yet even greater importance have been the efforts of individual leaders to concentrate power in themselves through the appointment of protégés to critical positions. Such leaders also attempt to extend their influence beyond their terms in office through those protégés and their roles as ‘elders.’ Thus, we see a tension between Party norms and the centralizing tendencies of Leninist systems in which the centralizing tendencies usually prevail.

The full article can be read on Cambridge University Press’ website.

Joseph Fewsmith is Professor of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University  He is the author or editor of eight books, including, most recently, The Logic and Limits of Political Reform in China (January 2013). Read more about Professor Fewsmith on his faculty profile.