The Illusion of Merit in Political Leadership Selection in China

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Author(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38–58
Number of pages21
Journal / PublicationThe China Quarterly
Volume257
Online published26 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Abstract

In China, government at all levels relies on the specially selected graduates (SSG) scheme to recruit elite university students as future political leaders. This article examines the mechanism of the SSG scheme and the relationship between elite university education and political selection in China. We show that elite education is increasingly stratified, such that graduates from top elite universities have significant selection advantages in the SSG competition and are more likely to be offered incentives and preferences. We argue that taking elite university education as a hard eligibility criterion reinforces the homophily effects in selection of future political elites and strengthens the political influence of top elite universities on China's politics. Further, because poor and lower-class students have little chance of entering elite universities, the SSG does not provide an effective route of upward mobility for non-elite classes. Merit-based political recruitment as a channel of upward mobility for non-elite classes is largely an illusion. © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of SOAS University of London.
選調生政策是中國政府用來選拔和培養黨政幹部後備人選的重要手段。本文通過考察定向選調生制度的運行機制,分析了中國精英教育和政治精英選拔之間的關係。研究結果表明,教育分層有進一步加劇的趨勢,精英大學畢業生在選調生選拔中具有明顯優勢。本文認為,將精英大學的教育經歷作為選調生選拔的准入門檻,強化了政治精英群體中的同質化效應,同時也增強了精英大學的政治影響力。此外,我們發現非精英階層家庭出身的學生很少有機會能進入精英大學,這導致他們想通過擇優的政治選拔制度實現社會向上流動,在很大程度上是一種不切實際的幻想。

Research Area(s)

  • civil service recruitment, political elite selection, specially selected graduate, homophily, educational stratification, political meritocracy

Citation Format(s)

The Illusion of Merit in Political Leadership Selection in China. / Zhao, Mengxue; Ma, Liang; Chan, Hon S.
In: The China Quarterly, Vol. 257, 03.2024, p. 38–58.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review