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Crossing the River by Touching Stones: A Comparative Study of Administrative Reforms in China and the United States


Mengzhong Zhang is a research professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland at College Park.


To compare administrative reform in one of the world’s most ancient civilizations and in one of the world’s “youngest countries” produces some surprises. Administrative reforms in both countries are similar, but occur at different periods of history. Mengzhong Zhang of the University of Maryland at College Park discovers that some of China’s recent reform efforts resemble historic efforts in the United States up to half a century ago. Other components of administrative reform in China reflect contemporary practices in the United States. This phenomenon reflects convergence, rather than divergence.