The Journal of Contemporary China: The Impending Rise of the “Tsinghua Clique”: Cultivation, Transfer, and Relationships in Chinese Elite Politics


Abstract: The Tsinghua clique is highly influential in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politics. But in the past, alumni from other elite universities, such as Peking University and Renmin University of China, also occupied positions as senior cadres, so Tsinghua did not have any more influence than they did. However, since 2002, Tsinghua University has developed a ‘cultivation/transfer’ system whereby the school, in a purposeful, calculating, and organized manner, selects and trains talented students and then places them in political posts after graduation. After these students enter officialdom, they strengthen their ties with other alumni through their connections with the Tsinghua authorities and the Tsinghua Alumni Association. With this system in place, Tsinghua alumni account for the majority of ‘post-1980 generation’ county-level leading cadres. The authors therefore predict that the ‘Tsinghua clique’ will gain even stronger political influence, and Tsinghua University will likely become the most significant university for cultivating senior cadres.

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