New Changes in the Governance Model of County-level Governments

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.1, 2014


New Changes in the Governance Model of County-level Governments



Zhe Xiaoye


After the devolution of local taxation, county-level governments had a new operating model, one in which their financing and project platforms were, to a large extent, a strategy for dealing with central government regulations. Based on an examination of the current phenomenon of county-level governments’ large-scale operation of urbanization projects, we propose to explain the role of local governments in this process through an analytical framework that examines the integrated governance carried out through the trinity of“administration-politics-enterprises.” Taking advantage of the “project platform,” county-level governments obtain monopoly power over core resources such as land through their powers of administrative approval; play a leading role through political mobilization; and take the main leadership position in economic development. The power, will and performance of county-level governments build on each other through an unprecedented process of interaction that generates fresh dynamism. This integrated governance model penetrates into every aspect of urban-rural construction so that the energy and role of government far outruns the orientation of earlier research. It is the evolution of this role that accounts both for the amazing speed of county-level urbanization and for its manifold difficulties.