Book Review by Giuseppe Gabusi
Global Politics Review
Vol. 3, no. 1 (April 2017): 110-113.
Published: 29 April 2017
Title: Centrifugal Empire: Central-Local Relations in China.
Authors: Jae Ho Chung.
Publisher: Columbia University Press (link).
Number of Pages: X, 232.
List Price: Hardcover, USD 60.00.
About the book: Centrifugal Empire examines the logic, mode, and instrument of local governance established by the People's Republic, and then compares the current system to the practices of its dynastic predecessors. The result is an expansive portrait of Chinese leaders' attitudes toward regional autonomy and local challenges, one concerned with territory-specific preoccupations and manifesting in constant searches for an optimal design of control. Jae Ho Chung reveals how current communist instruments of local governance echo imperial institutions, while exposing the Leninist regime's savvy adaptation to contemporary issues and its need for more sophisticated inter-local networks to keep its unitary rule intact. He casts the challenges to China's central–local relations as perennial, since the dilution of the system's "socialist" or "Communist" character will only accentuate its fundamentally Chinese—or centrifugal—nature.