The Rule of Mandates: How China Governs
Dr. Mayling Birney, Assistant Professor, Department of International Development, LSE
4-6pm, Wednesday 13 November
Room K-1.14, King's Building, Strand Campus
All are welcome to China Institute research seminars - no need to register
Authoritarian regimes are commonly distinguished by who governs. Here I argue that more attention should be brought to distinguishing how they govern, at the least because this affects political stability. First, drawing upon primary research on China, I propose an original theory of how authoritarian regimes may govern systematically yet unlawfully, using what I call a rule of mandates. A rule of mandates constitutes governing with priorities, as opposed to governing with laws (as under rule of law) or governing arbitrarily (as under rule of man). Second, I show that the rule of mandates buttresses stability, by curtailing the unwanted effects of the regime’s own laws where they threaten key priorities. Analyzing survey and interview data, I demonstrate that it reduces implementation of China’s national law requiring village elections in those places where the law might destabilize. Nevertheless I consider whether the rule of mandates meta-institution undermines longer-term stability.
Mayling Birney is a Lecturer in the LSE Department of International Development, and a comparative political economist with a special expertise in China. She is currently finishing a book about China’s distinctive form of authoritarian governing, in which she highlights its consequences for stability, justice and reform. Prior to arriving at LSE, Dr. Birney was a fellow and lecturer at Princeton University; and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a major think tank in Washington DC. She previously served as a Legislative Aide in the United States Senate. She holds a PhD in Political Science from Yale University, an MSc in Economics from LSE, and a BA in Government from Harvard University.