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Administrative Reform in Post-Mao China


     People's Republic of China is one of the most primitive urban civilizations.  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) founded it in 1949. The CCP chairman, Mao Zedong, then led the country for nearly three decades. China has been left behind in the race of development and industrialization by the nations, which we call today as developed countries.  Mao’s anti urban philosophy made most significant contribution in the under development of the People’s Republic of China especially during the period of 1949 to 1976. In 1951 the urban population was 66.32 million and by 1978 it rose to 172 million only, while the share of municipal population in total population increased only from 11.78% to 17.92% in the same period. This was the result of premeditated government policies and direct control of population movement through the household registration (hukou) system.

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     After gaining power in 1978, two years after Mao's death, Deng Xiaoping began to introduce economic reforms, in the process consolidating his paramount authority. Most members of the collective leadership that runs China ware appointed to their present positions in September 1997 and March 1998, although many top leaders were in senior positions well before Deng's death in February 1997. These economic reforms resulted in noteworthy social and as well as economic conversions in the biggest country of the world. The developmental process in China has gained momentum since then.

 About The Author

     Dr. Stephen K. Ma, Professor of Political Science, is Director of the Institute for Executive Leadership at California State University, Los Angeles. He has earned his Ph.D. and M.A. at University of Alberta, Canada, and his B.A. at Shanghai International Studies University, China. His teaching and research fields include Public Administration (Administrative Ethics, Comparative Public Administration, Organization Theory, Organizational Behavior), International Relations, and Comparative Politics (Canadian Politics, Chinese Politics).

     He is the author of Administrative Reform in Post-Mao China: Efficiency or Ethics? (University Press of America, 1996) and US Civil Service and Ethical Codes (in Chinese) (Tsinghua University Press, 1999). He is also a coeditor of Selected Classic Readings of Public Administration (in Chinese/English) (Fudan University Press, 2000), the Special Issue Editor of Administrative Ethics in Post-Mao China, a special issue of International Journal of Public Administration (Volume 23, Number 11, 2000), and a coauthor of Xifang Xingzheng Xueshuo Shi (The History of Theories of Public Administration in the West) (in Chinese), (Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2001).

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Analysis of Administrative Reform in Post-Mao China: Efficiency or Ethics

    China's traditional activities since the investiture of organizational reform in the late 1970s have been explored in this book. However, bureaucratic activities in China in the precedent decade were ever more besmirched; this characteristic of China's post Mao adjustment has not been put under thorough investigation. This book discovers the difference between preferred and the actual bureaucratic behavior amid China's public bureaucrats. In the years since Mao died, China has been shaken by social and economic change and Mao has been largely shunted to the sidelines of the nation's day-to-day life. And yet, he continues to exert an massive pressure through the system and the policies he left behind. On any given day his revolution can be seen in action, persecuting outspoken intellectuals, lashing out at imagined foreign slights, and jealously guarding its monopoly of power.

     This tension between China's modernizing society and Mao's remnant state is growing: Outside China Mao has joined Hitler and Stalin in the pantheon of 20th century evil--put there at least in part by the work of Chinese scholars and writers working outside of China. This verdict has not gone unnoticed in China. Today in China the country’s rulers and its people borrow the image of Mao only selectively. When it stands in the way of a new shopping center Mao usually loses. But the system of rule and ideology that he left behind remains under the watchful fortification of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. By that measure, Mao continues to enjoy a healthy afterlife. The writer argues that this behavioral crack in China's transformation stalks from many parts together with the nation's cultural legacy, the ruling party's move towards government, and the nonappearance of faithful, matured scholastic assemblage allocated to counsel on administrative reform. The book then investigates one of the most ironic consequences of the behavioral breach: "reform corruption", a incident which appears to be a mixed blessing of innovation.

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     The difference in political and administrative reform is very slim, as all discussions on augmenting bureaucratic usefulness almost immediately arrive on the susceptible question of the Party’s responsibility. Even as more philosophical changes in the governmental system of China have been put on hold for the time being, the essentials of economic development have kept revamping of the country’s managerial machinery high on the political program. The book starts with a preliminary chapter on modernization and administrative improvement. It presents the direct questions kept in mind during the study: Are the contemporary organizational arrangement and processes in China sufficient for the achievement of rapid rejuvenation? Can they become accustomed to the quick modifications in environmental policy building? Have organizational reforms diluted the Party’s capability to manage, or even reduced the capacity of, state influence? In the post reform China, rural migrants are allowed to move into urban areas. There are two kinds of migrants in China. Hukou migrants refer to those migrants whose hukou have also been transferred to the destination. Non-hukou migrants refer to those migrants who have left their hukou at origin and mostly registered as temporary population at destination. The formal urbanization process entails the augmentation of urban population with household registration hukou migrants). It is the author’s argument that the complicatedness came upon in Chinese policy execution are more related to the unprincipled activities of government bureaucrats than to disturb institutional or political growth.

     The informal urbanization process involves the increase of migrants from rural areas with no household registration in the urban area (non-hukou migrants). In the post-reform China, the informal urbanization process has attracted the most attention so far. But the formal urbanization process in China has also been very rapid since the late 1970s. A large number of new cities and towns have been designated in China and many Chinese cities have doubled their urban areas in the past two decades. Post Mao restructuring in fact means Deng Xiaoping's reforms. For two decades since December 1978, Deng's reform program made China's GNP grow on an average rate of 9% per year. Still, China's GNP per capita was at $750 a year in 1996 (according to the World bank’s 1998-atlas). Even if today's average monthly income should be $200, China is far from South Korea or Taiwan.  The number of Chinese cities increased from 191 in 1978 to 668 in 1998. The number of towns increased from 2819 in 1982 to 19060 in 1998. For another example, the built up area of Wenzhou city, with 1.15 million populations in 1998, increased from 27 to 76 square kilometers in a five-year period in the 1990s. According to official estimates the urban population in China has been more than doubled since 1978. It is unfortunate that only a three-year’s run (1985–1987) of this main source is used. Examination of the journal’s contents over a longer period would have enhanced the validity of the observations offered. Also, in a book published in 1996 a more up-to-date treatment of the subject is to be expected. This would have helped to bring the general picture into greater relief, as the sharp turns of reform policy produced clearly differing attitudes concerning the scope and goals of administrative restructuring. But these are points of finesse that do not bother the author, who instead clings to his practice of wholesale generalizing and a historical reasoning.

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     This book, for that reason, should gain the consideration of professionals in organizational studies and those who are attracted towards a larger subject of political transformation in China.  Nevertheless, these two groups of readers will be grossly dissatisfied. The text does not present considerably new pragmatic substantiation on its area under discussion; it also does not provide a good logical argument with unsullied viewpoint. Due to its paucity of reasonable construction, it cannot be suggested for preliminary study. The basis employed are only restricted to main Party newspapers and few journals acquired from China, Hong Kong magazines, and a dedicated publication on the subject matter. The method used is content analysis going around subjective storytelling and the calculation of statistics for article categories, area under discussion, and authorship.

     Later in his book, he writes a statement, which was inconsistent with his earlier views by commenting that China after Mo has evolved a bureaucracy with little independence and too little management. The contents of the book are full of similar contradictory and inconsistent statements. Usually, the contradictions are polished over by abundant references to Max Weber, Samuel Huntington, Anthony Downs, and the others. But the author was unable to put forward any illustrative thought by his good self. In further study he provides past environment of the central issue pertaining to this study. He elaborates on the administrative tradition in China and the role of intellectuals in comparison with the government. Without Mao's intimidation machinery and its system of thought control--China's present-day rulers would be hard-pressed to survive. Mao Zedong Thought remains part of the official ideology, while Mao's uncompromising treatment of Chinese society continues to dictate policy formulation. In that respect, at least, Mao remains wholly in the official favor. Ordinary Chinese continue to selectively borrow Mao's image too. In the countryside, where the economic and personal losses were greatest, he is hated. But urbanites continue to admire him. But the degree to which Mao has fallen into kitsch is evident elsewhere.

     He writes that prior to the administrative reforms there was a trust worthy government, having said that he discusses the worsening of the ties among scholars and those who are in control. Here, once more his opinions disagree with each other. It has been a norm for the author to make broad statements and then to incorrectly recover situation by making extensive statements that bind together colonial China and the radical past. It appears that technical troubles facilitating the Hundred Flowers movement, the prickly internal party pressure over dissimilar administrative moves, and the aggressive disagreements activated by them throughout the Cultural Revolution do not exist for the author. Still supposing the pre reform movements are afterwards stated in transiently and the subsistence of former administrative troubles are recognized, this work by Stephen does not accomplish something in substance by insertion into political framework the varied Chinese thoughts mentioned.

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     As the initial sections do not hold noteworthy new points, the parts that follow make some compensation by considering the treatment of administrative troubles in Chinese publications of the transformation phase. The primary attention is focused on the journal Chinese Public Administration, the house appendage of the Chinese Association of Public Administration. In accelerating modern socialist economic construction, implementing economic restructuring and undertaking other systemic reforms, the first problem which needed to be addressed was that of correcting defects in the traditional centralized planning system The writer’s conclusions carry following comments: hypothetical piece of writing and information on practical advancements instead of material reorganization suggestions have dominated the writing in the journal; practitioners from the position of civil service rather than scholars from outside have been the most vigorous contributor; and questions of human resources administration rather than structural concern have been the common topics. Such comments are then associated to assumption on the rationale that these characteristic features consistently point to the tight political constraints on the discussions in it.

    Two further chapters, on organizational modifications pertaining to enhancement in efficiency and on corrupt bureaucratic performance, are blemished by the same problem: they contain a compilation of Chinese information on these areas, which are insecurely amalgamated along with running explanation. But as a replacement of providing a well thought out typology of behavior with concentration to time and place, the author simply ropes collectively contrasting set of news. Trivial, although informative, stories figure mutually with some secluded macro economic statistics discussed in a incoherent descriptive approach. Many programs for organizational transformation are touched, but not one issue is explored more profoundly or pursued up with more methodical study on the representativeness of a given case, the accomplishment of proclaimed reform procedures, or the conclusion of their implementation. A logical conversation of a variety of formats for reorganization the cadre system and reinstating it with a civil service is nowhere to be found. Effort to divide cause and effect in the conversation of cases of dishonesty are feeble.

     The closing stages are unconvincing, and the way of thinking is unclear. The same criticism applies to the conclusion of the book. It reflects on the existence of a scrounging party machinery and the need to depoliticize the civil service and to set up better external supervision. Mao's post-1949 image is less in favor. The party ruled in 1981 that he had committed "major mistakes" in that period, even though these did not outweigh his merits. Translation: the roughly 10 million people who were killed in Mao's post-1949 political campaigns and the other 30 to 40 million who died as a result of his Great Leap Forward famine of 1958-1961 do indeed tarnish his claim that he made China "stand up." But those stains must not be allowed to blot out the entire man, lest his state be blackened as well. "If Mao is to blame, then the party is to blame," notes the writer and journalist Jonathan Mirsky. "And if the party is to blame, then those who have inherited its revolutionary mantle have no legitimate claim to rule." An original idea shows up with the remark that the complete depoliticization and removal of Party influence would not only mean an end to communism in China but could possibly entail even greater corruption, as no other institution would be powerful enough to check the bureaucracy. This aside highlights one of the many dilemmas faced by Chinese reform policies, and although this particular dilemma would have been worthy of further discussion, it quickly becomes buried in other ruminations

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he writer must be accounted for the fragile arrangement and hypothesis of his study; a part of his problems also corresponds from the innate constraint of his basis and the tactic engaged. Press coverage and editorials from specialist periodicals can provide case information and exemplify many impediments in the Chinese bureaucracy. They point toward contemporary approach amid the management or diverse technical assemblage, and, banking on the prevalent political environment, they may perhaps even reproduce accepted observations to some degree. However, the evaluation should be bolstered by supplementary techniques for instance, analysis of rules on human resources supervision; survey of managerial planning; an evaluation of financial plan; the attitude surveys etc. As such addressing these areas would undoubtedly may never answer all questions; they would add profundity, firmness, and outlook to the point of view of that book.


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