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Which factors make some American multinational corporations (MNCs) take political action in response to the US–China Trade War and cause others to stay on the sidelines? We identify China-based subsidiaries of US firms to identify firms’ political actions in response to the trade war. We combine data on firms’ tariff exposure, economic actions in China, and political actions in the United States during the trade war. Together these data highlight the divergent strategies with which firms engage. Even though more than 63 percent of MNCs in our sample were adversely impacted by tariffs, only 22 percent voice opposition and 7 percent exit in response to the trade war. Our analysis reveals that US MNCs in China differ in their business models, ownership structure, experience in China, and size of capital investments. These firm-level factors determine the degree to which US MNCs are embedded in China. This in turn shapes how firms perceive political risk and choose from the menu of options to deal with the trade war. Size and age increase voice while joint-venture status decreases it.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) retain a strong presence in many economies around the world. How do governments manage these firms given their dual economic and political nature? Many states use authority over executive appointments as a key means of governing SOEs. We analyze the nature of this “personnel power” by assessing patterns in SOE leaders’ political mobility in China, the country with the largest state-owned sector. Using logit and multinomial models on an original dataset of central SOE leaders’ attributes and company information from 2003 to 2017, we measure the effects of economic performance and political connectedness on leaders’ likelihood of staying in power. We find that leaders of well-performing firms and those with patronage ties to elites in charge of their evaluation are more likely to stay in office. These findings suggest that states can leverage personnel power in pursuit of economic and political stability when SOE management is highly politically integrated.
Approximately 13 million Chinese lack hukou, the formal household registration. This prevents them from claiming full citizenship rights, including social welfare, formal identity documents and employment in the state sector. The government blames birth planning policies for the unregistered population, but this explanation ignores the role of internal migration. Because citizenship rights are locally determined and the hukou system is locally managed, migrants face significant barriers to registering their children. This article systematically analyses the political determinants of the unregistered population nationwide. Based on a logit analysis of a sample of 2.5 million children from the 2000 census, I find that children born in violation of the one-child policy do have lower rates of registration and that children born to migrant mothers are four times more likely to be unregistered than registered. Continuing government focus on the effect of birth planning ignores the more fundamental institutional barriers inherent in the hukou system.
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