Do All Roads Lead to Rome? A Review of the Literature on Succession Politics in China

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Original languageEnglish
Article number2340006
Number of pages27
Journal / PublicationIssues & Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


Political elites have a tremendous influence on past, present and future socioeconomic and political developments in both western and non-western countries. Unsurprisingly, the analysis of China’s elites has been crucial in the study of politics there. A large body of literature has examined the members of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, a stronghold of the nation’s political elites. Given the growing interest and research on elite politics in the PRC in recent years, this paper reviews studies of the pathways to political power and the personal qualifications of the members of the Central Committee that are central to studies of elite Chinese politics. This review paper is organized both chronologically and thematically. It shows a shift away from the study of demographics of Central Committee members toward theorizing of how recruitment into the Central Committee works. Some scholars have theorized succession politics in China as the rise of technocracy, while others have used institutionalization and factional politics to explain how China’s leaders are selected. This paper summarizes and identifies several theoretical and methodological issues in existing studies as an effort to advance research succession politics and political evolution in China. © Issues & Studies and World Scientific Publishing Company.

Research Area(s)

  • elites, political power, leadership selection, elite recruitment, China