Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Minxin Pei

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© 2014 Philip Chun


China’s current crop of leaders has inherited a country full of promise. After the disastrous socialist transformation under Mao, Deng Xiaoping and his successors have implemented large scale, successful economic and social reforms and in less than two generations brought China to the forefront of the global economy. As a result they have gartered most of the praise, glory, and often, economic windfall, associated with China’s success. The goal of this thesis is to examine the complex, non-linear fashion in which China’s top leadership is chosen, and explore the best possible paths to ascend the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party. An investigation of China’s current governing leaders’ paths to power will be included to illuminate how various factors including merit, patronage, institutional role, and luck play a part in the ultimate makeup of China’s top leadership. Key findings show that family pedigree, faction loyalty, and exceptional performance in important roles, especially in provincial governments are the most influential variables when predicting Chinese leadership.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.