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Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy Workshop featuring Daniel Mattingly – The Party and the Gun: Managing Civilian Leadership Challenges in China

February 9 @ 4:30 pm 6:00 pm

Speaker: Daniel Mattingly, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Yale University

How do authoritarian leaders secure themselves from civilian leadership challenges? In this paper, we argue that autocrats differentiate civilian rivals by their social ties to the military. To reduce the risk of civilian coup, leaders share power by promoting civilians with military ties to posts in the wider ruling coalition, but withhold promotion to the very apex of power, where they might pose a direct threat. We introduce an original dataset of over 100,000 postings of 27,000 Chinese military officers and map social ties between the entire civilian and military elite between 1927 and 2014. We find that civilian leaders with strong ties to the military are more likely to be promoted to the Central Committee, but not to the elite Politburo or Standing Committee. The results have important implications for understanding authoritarian durability and instability.

Daniel Mattingly is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He studies authoritarian politics and historical political economy with a focus on China. He is the author of The Art of Political Control in China (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which examines how the Chinese state controls protests and implements ambitious social policies. It was named one of the best books of 2020 by Foreign Affairs and received the best book award from the Democracy and Autocracy Section of the American Political Science Association. His current book project examines the role of the military in China’s domestic and international politics. He received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. from Yale University.


February 9
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies


CGIS South S020, Belfer Case Study Room

1730 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States

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