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Title: Promotion with Reservations An Analysis of Western-Educated Returnee Prospects in the Chinese Communist Party
Authors: Xu, Lillian
Advisors: Truex, Rory
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: Many Chinese politics scholars have discussed the drivers behind the country’s selection of elite leadership; much has also been written about the substantial impact Westerneducated returnees have made on Chinese society. While both strands of scholarship have been explored in depth, the two rarely coincide. This thesis is situated at this under-explored intersection, as it seeks to examine the career prospects of Westerneducated returnees in the upper echelon of the Chinese Communist Party. While the returnees have obtained advanced knowledge during their time abroad, they have also been exposed to liberal political influences that threaten to destabilize elite ideological cohesion. How does the Party reconcile this tension? To investigate this question, this study employs Evan Lieberman’s mixed methods nested analysis approach. This study first conducts a quantitative analysis of a historical data set of alternate and full members of the Chinese Central Committee. These preliminary results do not find Western-education to significantly impact one’s likelihood of promotion. The remainder of the study turns to case studies and returnee descriptive statistics to identify plausible mechanisms behind this result. This close analysis identifies three means by which the CCP can simultaneously take advantage of the Western-educated returnees’ advanced skills while mitigating the threat of political instability. By promoting returnees who studied primarily apolitical or technical fields at short-term programs overseas and constraining their spheres of influence to primary functional areas of leadership, the CCP appears to exercise a strategy I call promotion with reservations, a more nuanced formulation of the original theoretical intuition driving this study. This optimized strategy allows returnees to contribute to the governance of the country but very rarely in Party rule. These findings inform the efficacy of soft power initiatives of higher education exchanges between the U.S. and China.
Extent: 110 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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