What areas of the country does the Chinese government prioritize for drinking water provision infrastructure? Chinese policy prioritizes ethnic minorities and minority autonomous areas due to concerns about inequality and interethnic harmony. However, the implementation is not always equitable or favorable for ethnic minorities. Drawing on a new data set of more than 10,000 drinking water projects, I explore how ethnicity and autonomy influence public goods provision in rural Guizhou Province. I find implementation concerns trump official policy priorities when it comes to drinking water infrastructure. Such facilities are more likely to be built in Han-majority areas, because implementation and project completion are easier for officials. The findings have implications for ethnic politics and public goods provision in nondemocratic contexts. They also demonstrate why regions with larger minority populations are often slower to develop and slower to receive better access to basic public services.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.