Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Loyalists, clients, henchmen, guanxi

I point to Edward Wong's report in The New York Times not because it offers some details about the current instability, but because it provides a good illustration of guanxi.

Americans doing business in China are often briefed on guanxi, but it plays an important role in governance and politics as well.

Guanxi, An Important Chinese Business Element
“Guanxi” literally means "relationships", stands for any type of relationship. In the Chinese business world, however, it is also understood as the network of relationships among various parties that cooperate together and support one another. The Chinese businessmen mentality is very much one of "You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours." In essence, this boils down to exchanging favors, which are expected to be done regularly and voluntarily. Therefore, it is an important concept to understand if one is to function effectively in Chinese society.

Disgraced Chinese Official’s Loyalists Are Rounded Up for Questioning
Officials in critical Communist Party and government posts in Chongqing who are considered loyalists of Bo Xilai, the city’s deposed party chief, are being detained as part of the wide-ranging investigation into Mr. Bo and his family, according to a Chongqing official and other people with knowledge of political appointments in the city.

The detentions are part of an attempt by the central Communist Party to dismantle Mr. Bo’s support network and build a case against him and his wife…

The detentions and, in some cases, replacements of Mr. Bo’s allies began soon after party leaders ousted him on March 15 as the Chongqing party chief, said people in Chongqing and Beijing, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation…

The detention and replacement of officials in Chongqing have taken place under the watch of Zhang Dejiang, a vice prime minister who was sent from Beijing to serve as party chief in Chongqing after Mr. Bo’s ouster. Cheng Li, an expert in Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution, said in an interview with the National Bureau of Asian Research on Wednesday that it was important to note that Mr. Zhang is an ally of Jiang Zemin, the former top leader of China.

Mr. Bo was also considered, in a broad sense, to be an ally of Mr. Jiang’s. Mr. Li said the fact that party leaders agreed that one of Mr. Jiang’s men should replace Mr. Bo showed that there was no significant split on the issue between the Jiang faction and the faction led by Hu Jintao, the current Chinese president and party chief…

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