Mapping the Progress of Local Government Innovation in Contemporary China
As a key variable in explaining economic and social development in China, local government innovation has attracted considerable attention in the studies of Chinese government and politics. The previous research has mostly focused on two forms of local government innovation: “spontaneous exploration” and “top-down experimentation”. Since the 18th National Congress of CPC, spontaneous exploration has been restricted in terms of scope, range and possibility; however, there emerges a new form of innovation different from spontaneous exploration and top-down experimentation – “seeking approval”. This new form has been empirically demonstrated by Hunan, Shandong, Shanxi, Zhejiang provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and is likely to become a new trend of local government innovation in China. As a hybrid model of spontaneous exploration and top-down experimentation, “seeking approval” brings the informal interaction between local and upper-level governments into formal government process, and it is a possible path for positive interaction of “top-level design” and “local exploration”. It may further distinguish the authoritative boundary of different levels of governments in practice and restructure a new vertical intergovernmental relationship. That is to say, the allocation of government power would be based on the distribution of responsibility, centralizing and (or) decentralizing power as the responsibilities go.
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