The modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance that China has promoted in recent years could be understood as China trying to reform its state governance.


This article investigates the characteristics of the basic structure of China’s state governance model since the reform and opening up.

Main Argument

China’s governance model is a dual structure model that can be observed in its organization, decentralization, value and efficiency systems. At the same time, this reform, marked by the reform of Party and state institutions, establishes a party-centered state governance system and structure; that is, the adjustment of the relationship between politics and administration, promotes the construction of the state governance system of party centralism.


Based on ongoing reform activities, the essence of China’s current governance reform is a more comprehensive revision of China’s governance model since the reform and opening up.

1. Introduction

In November 2013, during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee, the Party adopted the decision of “the CPC Central Committee on Several Important Issues of Comprehensively Deepening Reform”, clearly defining the goal of the large-scale reform as promoting “modernizing China’s system and capacity for governance”. Therefore, we can fully regard or understand this reform activity as China trying to reform its state governance. Xu Xianglin, a Chinese political scientist who previously proposed the concept of “state governance”, defined the concept as “the process through which the highest authority of the state controls and manages society by administrative, legislative, and judicial organs and the decentralization between states and local authorities.”1 Xu Xianglin’s concept of state governance mainly comes from the analysis of the modernization of the transitional society in Western countries, which emphasizes the leading role of the state and takes social demands into account. In practice, state governance can be demonstrated as a structural dynamic process seeking equilibrium2. Xu Xianglin hopes to construct a “more balanced and objective theoretical perspective” that includes the “governance concept”, that is, “interpreting and analyzing the modernization of the transitional society from a state governance perspective.”3 However, this concept of state governance has been in line with the practical reality of China’s reform, which may have had a positive effect on it.

Based on the practice of China’s reform, this paper tries to put forward the concept of China’s state governance from the perspective of comparative public administrative by stating that China’s state governance refers to an ideal situation in which, with the original legitimate authority of state governance, political institutions such as the government, the legislature, and political parties, by further promoting and improving top-down legitimacy, authority and autonomy to solve public problems. If this concept is appropriate, then the expectations of the state governance reform are mainly reflected in two aspects. First, the reform can enhance the autonomy of the state, break through the barriers established by interest groups, and promote overall reform to pursue the country’s long-term interests. Second, the reform can achieve a greater concentration of power and enhance the political responsiveness of the government administrative system, thereby stimulating the bureaucratic system to improve the implementation of the reform policy. Moreover, judging from the reform process and the implementation of the reform policy, the essence of the reform activities also lies in correcting the Chinese governance model since the reform and opening up, which has become more mature and stable during the period before the reform.

If this judgment or assumption is appropriate, then we should determine the governance structures of the state governance model, which has already created a huge economic success, even though it has had a great impact on society as a whole since the implementation of the reform and opening up policy in China and now may become the traditional model. Under this premise, this paper attempts to clarify the advantages and disadvantages of China’s governance model since the reform and opening up and, after comparing the model with the current situation, analyzes the direction of the reform and future prospects for state governance in China.

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China’s governance model and system in transition

Author(s): Zhili Bai & Juan Liu

Alternative formats


Rusdin Tahir

Senior Lecturer [study on leaves] Department of Business Administration Science Faculty of Social and Political Science UNIVERSITY OF PADJADJARAN Jalan Raya Bandung-Sumedang KM 21 Jatinangor 45363, West Java, Indonesia Ph: +62 22 7792647,7796416 Fax: +62 22 7792647 Mobile: +62 81 123 9491; 822 919 356 65 Email:;; Web: Web: Web: Web: Web:

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