The case of China gets at one of the core questions that the Berggruen Governance Index (BGI) poses—can we necessarily assume that democratic accountability makes for better governance performance? China has steadily improved in public goods and state capacity according to the BGI data from 2000 and 2019, especially in terms of economic public goods and fiscal capacity due to its rapid GDP growth under an investment-led growth model. However, China's democratic accountability has worsened, presenting an uncommon case of improved governance performance. Now China's economy stands at a crossroads amid the precedent-breaking leadership of Xi Jinping. Will China disprove the ‘autocratic fallacy,’ whereby a dominant state setting priorities and making decisions for a society is sufficient? To what extent can China improve public goods provision and expand state capacity while limiting voice processes? This article examines key policies and strategies of China's governance performance over the past two decades. It also identifies future challenges underlying China's party-dominated and whole-of-nation approach to governance and its investment-led and export-oriented development model.
Photo by Paul Blenkhorn @SensoryArtHouse