Signal Left, Turn Right: Central Rhetoric and Local Reform in China
University of California, Merced
December 26, 2011
Political Research Quarterly, June 2013
How have local officials in China been able to break through central policy restrictions in a unitary and authoritarian political system? Why is China’s official discourse in the reform era often so conservative and unfavorable to reform? I argue the two issues are components of a signaling game between China’s central government and local officials, in which local officials know that the center may be reformist, but the reformist center imitates the rhetoric of a conservative center in order to control the pace of local liberalization. The result is a gradualist reform of “signaling left and turning right”, with glaring incongruity of speech and actions in the process.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: post-communist reform, rhetoric, signaling, propaganda, decentralization, local reform
Date posted: November 20, 2007 ; Last revised: July 5, 2013