The Party Leads All: The Evolving Role of the Chinese Communist Party

Examining the past, current, and potential future roles of the Communist Party in governing China
Apr 28, 2022 - Apr 29, 2022 at 9:15am - 5:00pm | Perelman Rm.101, 133 S. 36th St, Philadelphia

This book launch conference will be held on-site, but with a Zoom option.

To participate by Zoom, please register to receive a Zoom link: https://upenn.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYtf-yopj8oEtTrBdsCD5tBSPn_u4ZdctqI

The Chinese Communist Party and its policies touch nearly every aspect of life in China and dominate some. An often-quoted current phrase—one with roots in the era of Mao Zedong—says “the Party leads all.” Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the Party determines much of what is permitted and prohibited in the country’s social, economic, and political activity, as well as China’s increasingly consequential foreign relations. Even so, the Communist Party always has faced limits on what it can control, and it may encounter new obstacles ahead.

Has Xi’s tenure brought a qualitative increase in the pursuit, or achievement, of party control? How is party rule shaped and exercised by internal party dynamics, the party’s control over the state, society, economy, foreign affairs, government institutions and rules, and ideology? How serious are the threats to party strength and success posed by Xi’s approach to power, corruption in the party’s ranks, a rapidly changing society, a fraught international environment, or a possibly overly ambitious agenda for party control?

Contributors to the forthcoming book, The Party Leads All edited by CSCC Director Jacques deLisle and Deputy Director Guobin Yang (Brookings Press https://www.brookings.edu/book/the-party-leads-all/), and others will address these questions, recent developments and prospects for Xi’s third term. There will also be a panel on China’s approach to COVID and climate change issues.

Thursday, 04/28/2022, Perelman Rm.101, 133 S. 36th St, Philadelphia

9:15-9:30 Welcoming Remarks

9:30-10:45 Elite/Party Politics

Bruce Dickson, George Washington University, "The Party Leads It All" : The Leninist Revival in China

Cheng Chen, SUNY Albany, Ideology and Organization: Xi Jinping’s Party-Building in Historical Perspective

Discussants: Rory Truex, Princeton University; Chris Carothers, University of Pennsylvania

11:00-12:15 Corruption and Courts

Xin He, University of Hong Kong, The Party’ Control over the Judiciary

Melanie Manion, Duke University, Corruption and Chinese Communist Party Power 

Discussants: Jieun Kim, University of Pennsylvania

Neysun Mahboubi, University of Pennsylvania

1:30-2:45 Media and Civil Society

Maria Repnikova, Georgia State University, The Party and the Media: Unpacking the Dynamic Relationship and the Challenges Ahead

Diana Fu, University of Toronto; Emile Dirks, University of Toronto, The Party’s Struggle to Tame Civil Society

Discussants: Guobin Yang, University of Pennsylvania

Benson Zhou, University of Pennsylvania

3:00-4:15 Business/Economy

Margaret Pearson, University of Maryland, Party Business

Yue Hou, University of Pennsylvania, The Evolving Relationship between the Party and the Private Sector in the Xi Era

Discussants: Rosie Hseuh, Temple University

Hanming Fang, University of Pennsylvania

4:30-5:45 “Hot Topics” Roundtable—The Party and the Response to COVID, Climate Change, and Prospects for the 20th Party Congress

Panelists: Cheng Li, Brookings Institution; Jacques deLisle, University of Pennsylvania; Guobin Yang, University of Pennsylvania; Scott Moore, University of Pennsylvania


Friday, 04/29/2022, Perelman Rm.200, 133 S. 36th St, Philadelphia

9:15-10:30 Religion and Rural Society

Karrie Koesel, Norte Dame University, The Party and Religion: Serving the Party-State

Yanhua Deng, Nanjing University, The Party Rules All: The Policy of Multiple-Position Holding and its Implementation in Rural China 

Discussants: Matt Erie, Oxford University

Xian Huang, Rutgers University

10:45-12:00 Military and External Relations

Bates Gill, Macquarie University, The Party and External Relations

Andrew Scobell, U.S. Institute of Peace, The Party in Uniform: The Institutional Irony of Chinese Gun Control

Discussants: Fiona Cunningham, University of Pennsylvania

Jacques deLisle, University of Pennsylvania