Dr. Zhu Zhang, University of Oklahoma, will present "China's New Socialized Capitalists." 


Authoritarian rule in China today is buttressed by a pattern of socialized capitalists, with economic and political acceding political compliance in exchange for the many benefits conferred upon it by the state. How does the party-state manage their relationship with business elites to advance economic development without sacrificing their monopoly on power? Drawing on rich empirical evidence including indepth interviews and an original biographical dataset of the top 500 billionaires in China, this research shows how the party-state relies on one of its key co-optation institutions—the United Front Work Department (UFWD)—to discipline the rising private economic elites. By analyzing the structure and four major tactics of the UFWD, I argue that the purpose of inclusion is to institutionalize and control the super-rich. This work adds to our knowledge about the conditionality of how cooptation institutions work in authoritarian regimes and what the party-state seeks from the private sector. It enriches a burgeoning literature on the importance of adaptive institutional innovation in explaining the resilience of authoritarian regimes.


Zhu Zhang is the Newman Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Institute for U.S.-China Issues of the University of Oklahoma. She conducts her research in comparative politics with a focus on Chinese politics and state-business relations in China. Before joining the Institute, Zhu was a pre-doctoral fellow at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Tulane University in August 2021.

The KU Trade War Lab (TWL) supports funded research, offers student research training, and enables campus outreach on the political economy of trade and conflict. To view current projects and upcoming events, please visit: https://sites.google.com/view/jackzhang/twl

  • Rory Reidy
  • Isaac Allred
  • Kusal Kularatne
  • J. Greene

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