Pressing new (and old) challenges has put systems of governance and public administration under pressure around the globe. In this era, there is an ever greater need to globalize academic knowledge and learn from divergent systems. China has traditionally been held up as a suis generis exemplar of a particular mode of governance. An updated understanding of modern China and Chinese research on public administration stands to enrich the discipline by challenging old myths and assumptions – or by empirically demonstrating some enduring features. Given China’s size and geopolitical significance, it is also an important focus of study. This article outlines the key features of the Chinese system of government, governance and public administration. It maps the contours of the evolution of the study of public administration in China from the start of the twentieth century to a more mature and globally connected discipline in the present day. It also summarizes articles in this volume which shed new light on power, governance and public administration in modern China. They also provide new insights into governance and public administration theory. The volume shows that China has seen some localization and decentralization, alongside experiments with collaboration and networked-based policy making. However, the system of governance and public administration remains innately top-down and centralized with the center holding strong policy levers and control over society. As the pandemic revealed, this statist approach provided both governing opportunities and disadvantages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-402
Number of pages16
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number3
Early online date20 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • China
  • Public administration
  • governance
  • policy

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