Based on findings from a field research conducted in Pengzhe County in the People's Republic of China, the following study shows that county and sub-county governments in Pengzhe perform enormously important tasks in political, economic, and other areas. The reform period has seen the strengthening of local government power in Pengzhe. Party organizations at various levels are still the power center. Moreover, subordinate government officials (either at the county level or the township level) are still quite compliant with the policies of higher authorities due to the latter's power in personnel promotion/demotion and resource allocation. Relations between central government and local government is by no means a zero-sum game. As shown in the study, local officials at the county and township levels in places like Pengzhe are effective foot soldiers and functionaries of the central government in actually governing the vast population in China.

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