8 - Changing Party–Government Relations  pp. 191-224

Changing Party–Government Relations

By Shiping Zheng

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ALONG with the renewed efforts at economic modernization, the post-Mao regime launched an equally ambitious program for reestablishing an effective and efficient government administrative system at both central and provincial levels. As the Chinese economy and society were undergoing dramatic transformation, the reformist Party leaders faced four institutional challenges: how to redefine the relations between the Party and government in a new situation; how to reorganize the government institutions; how to establish an effective civil service; and how to balance the interests of the center and localities. None of these challenges were new, but market reform and the rapid economic and social changes in China have rendered the old responses obsolete and demanded new innovations. This chapter examines the CCP's responses to these challenges and evaluates the successes and failures of administrative state-building in the Deng era.


The Chinese state-building accelerated in 1979. At the central government level, the Finance and Economic Affairs Commission was the first to reemerge in the State Council. Two veteran central administrators, Chen Yun and Li Xiannian, quickly took the control of the national economy. Other central government agencies followed. Within less than two years, thirty-eight central administrative agencies were either restored or established. The State Council agencies grew from fifty-two in 1976 to seventy-six in 1978, and then ninety-four in 1979 and ninety-eight in 1980 (including fifty-one ministries and commissions, forty-two administrative bureaus, and five State Council offices).