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Political Potential Energy in the Implementation of Chinese Public Policy—An Analysis Based on the Forestry Reform Policy of the Last Two Decades

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.4, 2019

 

Political Potential Energy in the Implementation of Chinese Public Policy—An Analysis Based on the Forestry Reform Policy of the Last Two Decades

(Abstract)

 

He Donghang and Kong Fanbin

 

“Policy potential energy” is an academic way of expressing the impetus given to Chinese public policy by top-level support, as well as a Chinese-style academic rejoinder to public policy theory of Western origin. Our case study of nearly twenty years of forestry reform policy in rural China has found that the level of the policy-issuing body affects the degree of potential political energy. As this energy is the political expression of the core ideas of the Communist Party of China, national ministries and commissions often employ it to catalyze policy implementation. Local governments or implementing bodies are able to identify the potential political force behind these policies and adjust their policy implementation strategies accordingly. Good public policy implementation should include the degree of coincidence between potential political force and the relevant incentives and between the institutionalization of potential political energy players and mechanisms. This concept enables us to reveal the reasons and mechanisms for the sudden concentration and strengthening of the execution of some public policy at a particular time. As an inherent feature bestowed on policy execution by institutions with Chinese characteristics, potential political energy can indicate the political logic of those who implement Chinese public policy. In the new era, we should pay attention to the institutionalization of potential political energy. This includes the institutionalization of Communist Party leadership, respect for local authorities’ autonomy, and the embedment of public policy with a high level of potential energy into the routine implementation of hierarchical policy systems. Only in this way can China guarantee the effective implementation of public policy and enable it to serve the modernization of China.