For this month’s episode, Sam sits down with Kyle Jaros, Associate Professor in the Political Economy of China at the University of Oxford. They discuss Kyle’s new book, “China’s Urban Champions: The Politics of Spatial Development”, which uses four provincial case studies in Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Hunan, Jiangxi to analyze the relationships between local leaders, provincial leaders, and Beijing, as well as the roles occupied by other regional stakeholders. Kyle talks about his research methods, decisions, and challenges, highlighting his goal to cover issues unique to each province as well as identity their points of overlap.
President Xi Jinping, Kyle points out, has made analysis of China’s central power in Beijing the focal point for research and commentary into Chinese policy-making. While in the 1990s, researchers were more interested in addressing questions about China ability to achieve national coherence, now that China has established itself as a united state and global powerhouse, researchers tend to be more interested in analyzing Beijing’s top-down domestic policies as well as its foreign policy.
But Kyle believes provincial-based studies are more relevant than ever. “Even in this re-centralized context, the role of provinces remains really important, not in spite of the fact there is re-centralization, but in many ways because of it.” The Belt and Road Initiative is an example of this, as in some cases national government officials rely on provincial leaders to draft and carry out specific policies for the project.
His advice to field researchers in China:
- Remain mindful of your own safety and the safety of your sources and interlocutors.
- Relationships are more important than anything else, especially for foreigners.
- Ian Johnson’s article “The God of Development” in The New York Times. (2017)
- Carolyn Cartier’s essay “A Political Economy of Rank: the territorial administrative hierarchy and leadership mobility in urban China” in the Journal of Contemporary China. (2016)
- Jeremy Wallace’s book “Cities and Stability: Urbanization, Redistribution, and Regime Stability in China.” (2014)
- You-tien Hsing’s book “China’s Great Urban Transformation: Politics of Land and Property in China.” (2010)
Kyle Jaros is an Associate Professor in the Political Economy of China at the University of Oxford. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. Kyle’s research focuses on the politics of urban and regional development and evolving central-local relations in China.
The YCW Podcast is a monthly podcast series by Young China Watchers. We’re a global community of young professionals, providing a platform to discuss the most pressing issues emerging from China today. We organize events with China experts in our 10 chapters across Asia, Europe and the U.S., fostering the next generation of China thought leaders.
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Produced by Sam Colombie, with support from Johanna Costigan. Music: ‘We Build With Rubber Bands’, ‘Dirty Wallpaper’ by Blue Dot Sessions.
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