How Governance Shapes Emergency Management: China’s Mixed Records in Responding to COVID-19

Bo Wen, Shui-Yan Tang, Lei Tao

Abstract


A nation’s governing system shapes its capacity for emergency preparedness and management. Designed to maintain the central government’s absolute authority, China’s governing system limits local governments’ initiative and capacity in responding to mass emergencies. By examining China’s fight against COVID-19, this essay dynamically demonstrates how the country’s governing regime constrains local officials’ initial response to the virus but facilitated large-scale mobilization once the crisis was recognized by the central leadership. Three essential factors for an adaptive emergency management system are identified: 1) raising the central government’s ability to recognize mass emergencies, 2) changing political incentives of local cadres, and 3) creating a flexible and efficient ad-hoc resource allocation mechanism. This study provides insights on how to enhance the resilience of a mass emergency management system within the constraints of existing governing institutions.


Keywords


China; governance; intergovernmental relations; adaptability; resilience; mass emergency management; COVID-19 Pandemic

Full Text:

PDF

References


BBC News. (2020). ‘The mayor of Wuhan hints that the central government is responsible for the delayed disclosure of the epidemic situation’ [in Chinese]. January 28. [Cited 13 May 2020]. Available from: URL https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/chinese-news-51276069

Cai, J. (2020). ‘Coronavirus: The women leading China’s response to the outbreak’. March 3. [Cited 23 May 2020]. Available from: URL https://www.inkstonenews.com/society/coronavirus-women-leading-chinas-response-outbreak/article/3064767

CGTN News. (2020). ‘Xi Jinping discusses joint efforts against COVID-19 with world leaders in phone conversations. March 25. [Cited 23 May 2020]. Available from: URL https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-03-24/Chinese-Brazilian-presidents-hold-phone-talk--P7USp2wz3W/index.html

Changjiang New. (2020). ‘Public transport in 16 cities in Hubei has been shut down’ [in Chinese]. January 27. [Cited 10 May 2020]. Available from: URL http://www.jinguanwh.com/wh/18971.html

China Daily. (2020). ‘Xi visits Yunnan on inspection tour ahead of Chinese New Year’. January 19. [Cited 23 May 2020]. Available from: URL https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202001/19/WS5e243672a3101282172720d4.html

China News. (2020). ‘The medical supplies in Hubei province are in short supply’ [in Chinese]. January 29. [Cited 10 May 2020]. Available from: URL http://www.chinanews.com/gn/2020/01-29/9072946.shtml

Christensen, T., Andreas Danielsen, O. L. E., Laegreid, P., & H. RYKKJA, L. I. S. E. (2016). Comparing coordination structures for crisis management in six countries. Public Administration, 94(2), 316-332.

Comfort, L. K., Oh, N., Ertan, G., Scheinert, S. (2010). Designing adaptive systems for disaster mitigation and response: The role of structure. A. Boin, L. Comfort, C. Demchak, eds, Designing Resilience: Preparing for Extreme Events., New York: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Edin, M. (2003). State capacity and local agent control in China: CCP cadre management from a township perspective. The China Quarterly, 173, 35-52.

Fleming, C. J., McCartha, E. B., & Steelman, T. A. (2015). Conflict and collaboration in wildfire management: the role of mission alignment. Public Administration Review, 75(3), 445-454.

Gao, J. (2009). Governing by goals and numbers: A case study in the use of performance measurement to build state capacity in China. Public Administration and Development, 29(1), 21-31.

Huang, C., Wang, Y., Li, X., Ren, L., Zhao, J., Hu, Y. ... & Cheng, Z. (2020). Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The Lancet, 395(10223), 497-506.

Kleinfeld, R. (2020). ‘Do Authoritarian or Democratic Countries Handle Pandemics Better?’. March 31. [Cited 25 May 2020]. Available from URL: https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/03/31/do-authoritarian-or-democratic-countries-handle-pandemics-better-pub-81404

Lew, McCarthy & Huang. (2020). ‘Life in the time of coronavirus: how Wuhan made it through a week in lockdown’. January 30. [Cited 25 May 2020]. Available from URL: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3048129/life-time-coronavirus-how-wuhan-made-it-through-week-lockdown

Li, L. (2016). Reassessing trust in the central government: evidence from five national surveys. The China Quarterly, 225, 100-121.

Liu, N. N., Lo, C. W. H., Zhan, X., & Wang, W. (2015). Campaign‐style enforcement and regulatory compliance. Public Administration Review, 75(1), 85-95.

Lieberthal, K., & Oksenberg, M. (1988). Policy making in China: Leaders, structures, and processes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ostrom, E. (1998). A behavioral approach to the rational choice theory of collective action: Presidential address, American Political Science Association, 1997. American political science review, 92(1), 1-22.

Ran, R. (2017). Understanding blame politics in China's decentralized system of environmental governance: actors, strategies and context. The China Quarterly, 231, 634-661.

Ran, R. (2013). Perverse incentive structure and policy implementation gap in China's local environmental politics. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 15(1), 17-39.

State Council. (2020). ‘Li Keqiang chaired the executive meeting of the State Council’ [in Chinese]. January 20. [Cited 15 May 2020]. Available from URL: http://www.gov.cn/premier/2020-01/20/content_5471058.htm

Tang, Shui-Yan. (2012). Ten Principles for a Rule-Ordered Society: Enhancing China’s Governing Capacity. Beijing: China Economic Publishing House.

Van Rooij, B. (2006). Implementation of Chinese environmental law: regular enforcement and political campaigns. Development and Change, 37(1), 57-74.

Wang, M. L. (2012). Managing HIV/AIDS: Yunnan's government-driven, multi-sector partnership model. Management and Organization Review, 8(3), 535-557.

Woo, S. (2020). ‘China Ousts Senior Officials as Beijing Seeks Distance from Outbreak’. February 14. [Cited 27 May 2020]. Available from URL: https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-ousts-top-official-in-coronavirus-outbreaks-epicenter-11581568911

World Health Organization. (2020). ‘Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Situation Report – 1’. January 21. [Cited 19 May 2020]. Available from URL: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200121-sitrep-1-2019-ncov.pdf

Worldometers. (2020). ‘Coronavirus testing: Criteria and numbers by country’. [Cited 17 May 2020]. Available from URL: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/

Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. (2019). ‘Wuhan Municipal Health Commission’s announcement on the current situation of pneumonia’ [in Chinese]. December 31. [Cited 15 May 2020]. Available from URL: http://wjw.wuhan.gov.cn/xwzx_28/gsgg/202004/t20200430_1199576.shtml

Xinhua News. (2020a). ‘Xi Jinping is inspecting in Yunnan province’ [in Chinese]. January 20. [Cited 15 May 2020]. Available from URL: http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/leaders/2020-01/20/c_1125485577.htm

Xinhua News. (2020b). ‘Xi orders military to contribute to winning battle against epidemic. January 29. [Cited 15 May 2020]. Available from URL: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-01/29/c_138741685.htm

Zhou, Li-An. (2007). Governing China’s Local Officials: An Analysis of Promotion Tournament Model. Jing Ji Yan Jiu [Economic Research Journal] 7(36): 36-50. [in Chinese]

Zhang, Y. (2012). Institutional sources of reform: The diffusion of land banking systems in China. Management and Organization Review, 8(3), 507-533.

Zhou, X., Ai, Y., & Lian, H. (2012). The limit of bureaucratic power in organizations: The case of the Chinese bureaucracy. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 34(34), 81-111.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22140/cpar.v11i2.235

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Chinese Public Administration Review (ISSN 1539-6754, Online ISSN 2573-1483)  is published by the Institute for Public Service at Suffolk University - Boston.