Panel #3 Changing Modes and Measures of State Capacity in China

Panel Abstract: This panel explores the changing meaning and exercise of state capacity in contemporary China. Approaching the concept of state capacity from multiple substantive and methodological angles, the panel offers new insights into the Chinese party-state’s projection of territorial authority, regulation of elite discourse, and management of public behavior. The first paper, by Charles Chang and Yuhua Wang, introduces and empirically tests a novel geospatial methodology for measuring the territorial reach of the state in China. Warren Wenzhi Lu and Xiao Ma examine the restructuring of fiscal and administrative authority in “separately planned cities,” highlighting intergovernmental conflicts over revenues from China’s key ports. Diana Fu and Rui Hou analyze the rollout of the Social Credit System in China to unpack the party-state’s strategies for making society more legible and engineering new social norms. Finally, Yin Yuan applies a novel machine-learning methodology to “decode” elite political slogans and clarify how they operate as tools of elite cohesion and contestation. Mary Gallagher and Daniel Mattingly serve as discussants, while Melanie Manion serves as chair. By bringing together insights from different political domains and placing different methodological approaches in dialogue, the panel broadens and enriches the discussion around state capacity in Xi Jinping-era China.

Chair: Melanie MANION (Duke University)

Discussant: Mary GALLAGHER (University of Michigan)

Discussant: Daniel MATTINGLY (Yale University)

• Measuring State Infrastructural Power Using Points-of-Interest Data

Charles CHANG (Duke Kunshan University) and Yuhua WANG (Harvard University)

• Territorial Politics in Time: Trajectory of China’s Separately-Planned Cities

Warren Wenzhi LU (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) and Xiao MA (Peking University)

• Rating Like a State: China’s Social Credit System

Diana FU (University of Toronto) and Rui HOU (University of Toronto)

• Decoding Slogans in China: Reading Between the Lines Using Word Embedding

Yin YUAN (University of California, San Diego)

Please note that the 2021 APSA Chinese Politics Mini-Conference has an adjusted schedule and moved to Zoom. APSA registrants are welcomed to attend. We will also project Zoom from the APSA conference room (Conference Center, Tahoma 4). For more information, see schedule and virtual plan on the website menu.)