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The Heterodoxy of Governance under Decentralisation: Rent-Seeking Politics in China's Tobacco Growing Areas

Journal of Contemporary Asia, April 3, 2014, Vol.44(2), pp.221-240 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    The Heterodoxy of Governance under Decentralisation: Rent-Seeking Politics in China's Tobacco Growing Areas
  • Author: Cheng, Yi-Wen ; Ngo, Tak-Wing
  • Contributor: Cheng, Yi-Wen (correspondence author)
  • Found In: Journal of Contemporary Asia, April 3, 2014, Vol.44(2), pp.221-240 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: Government and Politics ; China (People'S Republic) ; Welfare Economics ; Production ; Authority ; Regulation ; Monopoly ; Revenue ; Article
  • Language: English
  • Description: This paper questions the categorisation of good/bad governance and argues that such a stylised conception fails to capture the ambivalence of responsibilities and accountabilities in a political system characterised by multiple layers of authorities. Using a case study of the tobacco monopoly in China, the paper shows the contradictory goals and outcomes in different modes of operation that defy a stylised categorisation. A vigorously enforced regulatory regime with a higher level of transparency and bureaucratic accountability raised the national revenue and put tobacco production in accordance with the national plan. Yet it has severely impaired the welfare and livelihood of tobacco peasants. Conversely, a regulatory regime captured by parochial interests and sabotaged by rent-seeking politics rendered bureaucratic authority arbitrary and opaque, and at the expense of the state plan and national interests. Nonetheless it protected the welfare of peasants, improved local production and helped develop the local economy. The paper argues that the pathways to good governance are not only multi-linear, but also heterodox and unpredictable. Adapted from the source document.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0047-2336 ; DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2013.874846

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