China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Spatial mobility of local political elites, as a special type of position mobility, is carefully designed by the central government to achieve various governance goals in authoritarian regimes. This study examines spatial mobility in the contemporary Chinese bureaucracy. Spatial mobility provides a crucial lens to inspect the institutional logic of governance in this authoritarian regime. Drawing on previous studies about political control, political incentives, and regional development in the Chinese bureaucracy, we discuss and summarize four spatial mobility mechanisms: (1) mobility to achieve political control, (2) mobility to incentivize bureaucrats, (3) mobility to develop underperforming regions, and (4) mobility to train bureaucrats. These mechanisms induce distinct mobility patterns. Four features of mobility pattern are proposed to differentiate these mechanisms: mobility rate, mobility regularity, mobility cycle, and mobility directionality. We hypothesize the mobility pattern of each mechanism and propose to empirically test these hypotheses by examining the spatial mobility of officials in Jiangsu province between 1990 and 2008.