Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

Tang, Wenfang

First Committee Member

Boehmke, Frederick J

Second Committee Member

Tolbert, Caroline J

Third Committee Member

Solt, Frederick

Fourth Committee Member

Zhao, Kang


How does the Chinese Communist Party tame factions from breaking it apart? Relying on thousands of biographies, the dissertation attempts to uncover the complex network of Chinese political elites and investigate how institutions constrain the expansion of factions.

First, it finds that the rule of avoidance has been effectively implemented. Native provincial officials are often assigned with secondary party positions, especially so in deeply indebted provinces that are heavily reliant on the central government for fiscal transfer. Second, the centralization of the disciplinary inspection system helps maintain the momentum of the anticorruption campaign since the 2012 leadership succession. Compared to native officials, the officials who were transferred from a different province or a central government agency are likely to investigate much more corrupt party cadres in their jurisdictions. Third, when it comes to promotions of provincial party secretaries, many performance-based criteria appear to be less important than factional ties. Good economic performance such as fast GDP growth does not increase a provincial party secretary’s odds to join the Politburo. However, the effects of factional ties are mixed. For example, family ties to a top party leader greatly increase the likelihood of promotion, but college ties disadvantage the candidates. Finally, the dissertation shows that network centrality in the Central Committee is a strong predictor of the outcomes of the Politburo turnover. The network centrality is positively associated with party seniority, but due to the age limits, it cannot grow without a ceiling.


China, Elites, Faction, Institutions, Networks


vi, 110 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 102-110).


Copyright 2016 Yang Zhang