Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Political Science

Committee Chair(s)

Anna Pechenkina


Anna Pechenkina


Jonathan Brunstedt


Yesola Kweon


The Communist Party of China CCP) controls all political, economic, and military issues in China. In the absence of elections, the only route of recruitment at higher levels of the political hierarchy in the Party is an official promotion. The scholarship on promotions offers two main explanations for advancement inside the Communist Party of China: (i) informal connections between high officials and candidates, and (ii) merit of candidates. This scholarship disregards, however, the importance of achievement of political targets by the candidates, specifically, their ability to deliver social stability.

Like every authoritarian regime, the CCP faces threats from the masses over which the elites rule. Reducing social mobilization is a key component of the CCP’s rule. In the past decade, labor strikes have become offensive in nature with workers demanding better conditions and espousing democratic values, thus challenging the Party’s dominant position in Chinese society. In order to minimize collective activities of Chinese citizens, provincial officials use censorship of the media, including posts on the social media websites, threats of job termination, as well as threats of deportation from urban areas. For that reason, those provincial officials who minimize the number of labor protests increase their chance of promotion to the Politburo. Furthermore, avoiding unrest should matter more for the promotion of party secretaries than governors, whose domain is economic growth.

To evaluate my argument, I analyze promotions of provincial leaders to the Politburo in 2003-2017. The data yield that—consistent with my argument—provincial leaders’ ability to minimize labor strikes increases their chances of promotion. In addition, positive economic performance matters more for the promotion of governors than of party secretaries.