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China's Governance Puzzle: Enabling Transparency and Participation in a Single-Party State, Jonathan R. Stromseth, Edmund J. Malesky and Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

Reviewed by Joseph Fewsmith

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China's governance, whether it is improving or deteriorating, whether it is leading to democratization or revitalized authoritarian rule, has been at the center of many discussions in recent years. China's Governance Puzzle is the product of a well-funded five-year research project bringing together wide-ranging methodological and country expertise. Jonathan R. Stromseth was the country representative for the Asia Foundation in Beijing; Edmund J. Malesky is a professor of political science, previously at the University of California, San Diego, and now at Duke; and Dimitar D. Gueorguiev is a professor of political science at Syracuse University. This team worked closely with Chinese collaborators, Wang Xixin, vice dean of the law school at Peking University, and Lai Hairong, a well-known expert on Chinese governance at the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau in Beijing. They recruited 75 research assistants to collect 130,000 data points on 1,000 indicators and information on all 31 provinces over a period of two decades. This extensive collaboration allowed them to pursue both quantitative and qualitative indicators of China's governance. I know of no other project on Chinese governance that is as methodologically sophisticated or as comprehensive.

Overall, they conclude that there has been notable progress in China's governance, particu

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