Fragmented party control of the gun: civil–military relations in China
YOU J I1,2
Source PublicationChinese Politics as Fragmented Authoritarianism: Earthquakes, Energy and Environment
Author of SourceKjeld Erik Brødsgaard
Publication PlaceLondon
Other Abstract

Fragmented authoritarianism (FA) is an inherent organisational feature of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).1 The FA concept defines the hierarchical relations between key state, military and economic institutions (Lieberthal and Oksenberg 1988). Interestingly, the terms ‘fragmented’ and ‘authoritarian’ are basically contradictory. Authoritarianism is synonymous with concentrated centralism and is inherently ‘anti-fragmented’ by nature. However, fragmentation reflects the nomenklatura features of agency relations that induce poor administrative coordination (Brødsgaard 2013). The bureaucratic interaction of Party/ army/state agencies is often conflictual due to structural clashes of interests, from competition to leadership attention to rivalry in budgetary allocations. Together, the two components of FA shape and constitute an important analytical framework for the serious study of China’s Party/army/state functions and operations. An abstract concept then becomes less abstract when it is used to decipher China’s policy process from the centre to the localities, which has long been depicted as ‘fragmented’; it is a process heavily influenced by various individual and institutional players with different vested interests in policy outcomes. The Chinese polity is even more fragmented during the process of policy implementation, which is characterised as incremental change via bureaucratic bargaining. This has become more intense in the form of FA 2.0, embedded in political pluralisation (Mertha 2009). The purpose of this chapter is to assess whether FA remains relevant 25 years after it was first coined as an analytical framework to describe institutional cleavages in the integrated process of the Party/army/state. More concretely, this chapter uses China’s unique civil-military interaction as a case study to demonstrate where the FA framework remains pertinent for our analysis of China’s elite politics generally and its decision mechanisms in particular, and where it fails to offer adequate explanation for the FA phenomenon. This case study will cover issues such as the changing paradigm of CCP/PLA ties, their differentiated organisational functions, faulty zones in the civilian control of the gun and long term uncertainties in the civil-military interplay in the context of the overall socio-political transformation that deepens the fragmentation of authoritarian CCP rule. The central argument of this chapter is that, while the CCP control of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is still firm, it is not as absolute as the Party

demands, largely because CCP control occurs via political and ideological guidance (Kang 1995: 31-7), which is offset by ineffective organisational and personnel mechanisms. More importantly, in terms of command and control the PLA system has been detached from the state’s constitutional system (Hu and Liu 2013: 104-23). This is the chief cause of fragmented civilian control over military affairs and it poses a lasting threat to the Party’s command of the military. On the other hand, this chapter also argues that the continued shared destiny of CCP/PLA is an effective means to curtail FA effects. As long as the two most powerful institutions stick together, the central authority can be guaranteed. The lasting challenge to the Party/army/state is the fact that CCP/PLA relations are a dynamic and shifting phenomenon in the context of the changing state/society relations and internal PLA structures. This will induce tremendous uncertainties in the long term.

URLView the original
Fulltext Access
Citation statistics
Document TypeBook chapter
Affiliation1.Department of government and Public Administration, University of Macau,Macao
2.School of Social Sciences,University of New South Wales,Australia
First Author AffilicationUniversity of Macau
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
YOU J I. Fragmented party control of the gun: civil–military relations in China. London:Routledge,2019:204-222.
Files in This Item:
There are no files associated with this item.
Related Services
Recommend this item
Usage statistics
Export to Endnote
Google Scholar
Similar articles in Google Scholar
[YOU J I]'s Articles
Baidu academic
Similar articles in Baidu academic
[YOU J I]'s Articles
Bing Scholar
Similar articles in Bing Scholar
[YOU J I]'s Articles
Terms of Use
No data!
Social Bookmark/Share
All comments (0)
No comment.

Items in the repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.