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“To Get Rich Is Not Only Glorious”: Economic Reform and the New Entrepreneurial Party Secretaries*

  • Yan Xiaojun (a1)

This article examines the profound transformation market reforms have brought to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) rural grassroots organizations. Focusing on the political rise of private entrepreneurs and other economically successful individuals who recently obtained village Party secretary appointments in a north China county, the article explores their differing promotion channels, power bases, political resources and motivations to take up the CCP's grassroots leadership position. It demonstrates that the variety among the new entrepreneurial Party secretaries – from large factory owners to de facto farm managers – shaped the network resource, factional affiliation and socio-political capital they rely upon to exercise their newly attained power. It also shows the crucial role played by community-based endogenous forces in transmitting the power of economic liberalization into dynamics for the reshuffling of the Communist Party leadership at the grassroots level.

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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