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Policy-Making & Political Leadership

Authoritarian regimes are often said to be incapable of learning. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), however, has often proved this assumption to be wrong. It has repeatedly surprised observers with its ability to respond to challenges, risks or crises triggered by rapid economic and social change. At the same time, China’s political system made very little progress in introducing broader political participation, pluralism and competition. Chinese leaders also resisted implementing any procedures or structures for the effective control of political power.

The research program on “Public Policy” focuses on the procedural and interactional patterns of policy-making in China and on changes of the leadership structure over time. Of particular interest are those policy areas that the Chinese leadership has identified as key challenges: party discipline, economic transformation, economic deregulation, judicial reform, and environmental, technological and social policy.

People protesting on a street in China

The research assesses the processes, outcomes and prospects of policy-making in China from various angles:

  • What are the characteristics of policy-making in China?
  • What substantial changes have taken place under Xi Jinping’s influence since 2012?
  • Who are the key players in various policy areas and what instruments do they use to achieve their aims and pursue their interests?
  • How reliable and effective are the methods and instruments the national political leadership uses to put their policies into action?
  • How much scope do Chinese citizens and non-governmental organizations possess to influence the policy-making process?
  • To what extent is China’s political system able to adapt and correct its policies and to reform its institutions?
  • What type of developments increase the risk of political destabilization? 

Publications and News in this Program

Research Team