Rapid social economic changes, the transition from a planned economy to a market economy, or even economic liberalization can lead to political instability and the collapse of authoritarian regimes. Despite experiencing all of these unprecedented changes in the past 40 years, China under the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership has so far successfully transformed and improved both its governance capacity and its ruling capacity. Peking University Political Science Professor Changdong Zhang’s book Governing and Ruling: The Political Logic of Taxation in China (2021) addresses this regime resilience puzzle by examining the political logic of its taxation system, especially the ways in which taxation helps China handle three governance problems: maneuvering social control, improving agent discipline, and eliciting cooperation. Zhang argues that a taxation system plays an important role in sustaining authoritarian rule, in China and elsewhere, by combining cooptation and repression functions. In this talk Zhang will discuss how the book collects valuable firsthand and secondhand data; studies China’s taxation system, intergovernmental fiscal relationships, composition of fiscal revenue sources, and tax administration; and examines how each dimension influences the three governance problems.
This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of Government and the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University.
Changdong Zhang is a professor and chair of the Department of Political Science in the School of Government at Peking University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Washington, Seattle. Zhang’s research interests include taxation politics and fiscal sociology, state and society relationships, and institutionalism, with a regional focus on China. Zhang’s academic papers have appeared in the China Quarterly, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Sociological Theory, Politics and Society, and many Chinese journals. He is the author of the book Governing and Ruling: The Political Logic of Taxation in China (2021).