Professor Jae Ho Chung’s talk will be mainly based on his new book Centrifugal Empire: Central-Local Relations in China (Columbia University Press, 2016. https://cup.columbia.edu/book/centrifugal-empire/9780231176200). This book examines the logic, mode, and instrument of local governance established by the People’s Republic of China since 1949, and then compares the current system to the practices of its dynastic predecessors. The result is an expansive portrait of Chinese leaders’ attitudes toward regional autonomy and local challenges, one concerned with territory-specific preoccupations and manifesting in constant searches for an optimal design of control. In the book, Jae Ho Chung reveals how current communist instruments of local governance echo imperial institutions, while exposing the Leninist regime’s savvy adaptation to contemporary issues and its need for more sophisticated inter-local networks to keep its unitary rule intact. He casts the challenges to China’s central-local relations as perennial, since the dilution of the system’s “socialist” or “Communist” character will only accentuate its fundamentally Chinese – or centrifugal – nature.
About the Speaker:
Jae Ho Chung is a Professor of Political Science and International Relations and Director of the Program on US-China Relations at Seoul National University. A graduate of Seoul National University, Brown University, and the University of Michigan where he received his Ph.D. in 1993, Professor Chung taught at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (1993-96) and was the Brookings Institution’s CNAPS Fellow (2002-3). Dr. Chung is the author or editor of seventeen books, including Central Control and Local Discretion in China (Oxford University Press, 2000), Between Ally and Partner (Columbia University Press, 2007), Assessing China’s Power (Palgrave, 2015), and Centrifugal Empire: Central-Local Relations in China (Columbia University Press, 2016). Professor Chung is the founding coordinator of the Asian Network for the Study of Local China (ANSLoC: http://www.ansloc.net). He is also a recipient of Seoul National University’s Best Researcher Award in 2009 and of Korean Association for International Studies’ Best Book Award in 2012.