In order to improve the effectiveness of redistributive policies, in 2002 the Chinese government increased fiscal transfers and imposed more stringent regulations on the use of earmarked funds. This article evaluates the impact this had on K county in a north-western province. The case study finds that the misappropriation of earmarked transfers did decrease but this did not necessarily indicate an improvement in the local government's compliance in the usage of transfers. Instead, the county governments found ways to sabotage central policies by exporting fiscal burdens to the subordinate bureaus that received the earmarked subsidies. In some bureaus this was done by reducing the amount of funds allocated for operating expenses. In others it involved increasing staff numbers. These findings provide a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of using earmarked funds and internal supervisory mechanisms to achieve policy objectives in an authoritarian regime.
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