Party and State Leaders of China. Biographical Data (1978-2019)
The dataset contains coded information on 71 people who fall within the category of “Party and State Leaders” of China. This category, although not clearly defined in official documents, is often used in the state media and governmental papers. The list of names is available on Baidu, a Chinese online search engine. To collect data on these leaders the authors used the official website of CCP, Xinhua as well as ChinaVitae, a database collected by Carnegie-Tsinghua Center. When any contradictions in biography data were found, the information provided by official websites was considered true. Since it is impossible to find every significant episode in the lives of every elite member in open or official sources, the team decided to register data since 1978, the year when the famous policy of reforms and openness was proclaimed. The dataset consists of three spreadsheets. The first one contains biographical data organized in the following columns: name, birth year, party membership year, province of birth, the township of birth, organ, department, position, year of assuming the post, year of leaving the post. The team chose to code the organs hierarchically as far as local bodies were concerned, i.e. the prefecture-level committee was labeled differently from the province-level committee. Original names were kept for individual organs, such as various mass organizations or enterprises’ names to reduce the risk of identifying false connections. The team further assigned a department within the organ where it was possible and necessary: the information on a department within prefecture-level instances and non-state organs, was not always available. Each year between 1978 and 2019 is also registered in a separate column to identify connections among the elite members. By connection, the team means the experience of studying or working at the same university/organ within a given year. Each connection is assigned weight, the largest being four: working in the same province, the same organ, the same town within a province (for provincial and municipal levels), and the same department within the organ. There are several exceptions as regards identifying connections. First, the same province and township of birth only count as one connection for the entire career. Second, the authors do not consider people who work in Beijing to have territorial connections. Only if two elite members work in the same organ in Beijing does the coincidence count as a connection. Third, the authors exclude CC CPC membership as a type of connection since the organ does not operate on a daily basis. The team registered connections from 1978 to 2019 and created an unweighted spreadsheet containing 5,832 rows (edges). The authors calculated the weight of connections within each existing pair of elite members and removed duplicates to create a weighted edge list. The connections are undirected, and there is no difference between where a name sits in the A-B connection pair.
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There are several exceptions as regards identifying connections. First, the same province and township of birth only count as one connection for the entire career. Second, the authors do not consider people who work in Beijing to have territorial connections. Beijing is the capital where a lot of party and state organs operate that have limited interactions in comparison with provincial-level organs. Hence, only if two elite members work in the same organ in Beijing does the coincidence count as a connection. Third, the authors exclude CC CPC membership as a type of connection since this is an elected organ that does not operate on a daily basis, and CC members can occupy various positions in different organs and regions. Fourth, the authors deliberately set aside patron-client relations – the ties with the previous generations that brought many national leaders to power and those that assist the younger generation in their careers.