[MUSIC] Hi, this week we're going to talk about the policy process in Chinese politics. What is the policy process? The policy process is the way that leaders and their governments determine what issues they wish to resolve, how they make those decisions about those issues, and then how they turn those decisions into very concrete actions. That's really what policies are. Now if you use this definition, you'll be looking at, one, how issues get onto or fail to get onto the decision making agenda. We'll look at the selection and the evaluation of specific policy options that may be considered to solve a designated problem. We'll look at the decision itself, yes, no, what exactly it is. Fourth, we'll look at the implementation, and in fact, also look at the evasion at the local levels of the policy. And fifth, hopefully we will look at, and I say hopefully because this is what something that political systems really need to do, is to study the feedback. The government needs to study the feedback that then allows them to assess the policy's current outcome. And then make any adjustments that may be necessary to make the policy successful. Now I propose 11 key characteristics of China's policy process. The first is that China has not completely institutionalized its policy making institutions. Leaders frequently transfer decision making authority from one organization to a new government body because they control that new government body, and they do this to enhance their own control over policy making. Or, they may take an older body and just change the rules, or change the members of that organization because that, again, enhances their authority within that organization. And ensures that that organization makes the decisions that they want it to. Second, as a result of this lack of institutionalization, the ability to control decisions is really based on a leader's power rather than some fixed rules within established institutions. A new leader will have his priorities and his strategies and his directions, and he will play with those institutions to try and make sure that those changes happen. Fourth, despite being an authoritarian system, China's leaders often hear society's policy concerns. They sort of come trickling up, and they listen and, in fact, very often respond to society's demands for specific policies. Fifth, the bureaucracy, and here I always spend time talking about the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy is absolutely critical to successful policy making. But it can also impede policy implementation, whether or not the policy is actually carried out, when policies threaten their interests and the interests of their allies. So when we look at most post-1978 reform policies, they really shift China from that planned economy up in the upper left-hand corner, to a more market-oriented economy. But to do this, they deregulate many controls. They take away regulations, which undermines the bureaucrat's authority over the allocation of goods and services. So the bureaucrats don't like this and must be bought off if the reforms are to go forward. A seventh component is really spatial, spatial and political. But there really is an enormous physical distance. China is a huge country, and there's an enormous physical difference between the central government and the local governments. And the local governments actually control some resources, which gives them power. And this creates a tension between the center and the localities as each side tries to introduce policies to expand their resources and their tax base. When the central government lets localities adjust policies, now that's acceptable. They can adjust those policies in line with local conditions, but sometimes localities just simply evade the central policy. They just don't listen, they twist it, they turn it to their own interests. And the central government has serious trouble monitoring the policy evasion, checking up on what really is going on at the local level. To ensure the leader's ideas, the leaders in the center, that their ideas align somewhat with local interests, and in order to avoid mistakes when carrying out new policies, China usually experiments with these new policies in what we call test points. These are places, locations where they will experiment and check out if the policy works. If they work, then they will transform it, what we call from the point to the surface and spread it nationwide. This relatively successful strategy goes all the way back to the 1930s when the Communists were up in Yan'an, before they took control of the country. And even then, they would send out investigators, what the Communists call work teams, to go to the localities to check on implementation. And these teams are empowered to push for the policy if they find that there is resistance within the village. The ninth characteristic is that since the mid-2000, there have been all kinds of vested interests outside of the formal structures of power, outside the bureaucracy. These may include state owned enterprises, mining and energy factions, the public security apparatus. All of these have really increased their power over the last 10, 15 years. And they resist many of the new policies. And so we see that the central leadership has to push. Now, the 10th characteristic, which is one of my own viewpoints, is that the central leaders often push through reforms through what I call policy waves. Right? In a policy wave, you get a series of new reforms across a wide spectrum of issues and that they're all introduced simultaneously. I'll give you later on in this lecture, we'll talk about one particularly successful policy wave. The last point I would make is that power really comes from setting the agenda. If someone, something does not get onto the agenda, then it just can't happen. Because no one's going to talk about it at the meeting. And if no one talks about it at the meeting, it's unlikely to happen. The only way this could happen possibly is, if it starts out at the locality and then is moved up and brought on to the central agenda.