Background to Writing the Report on State Capacity
China is a major developing country with a huge population, an extensive territory, and extremely uneven development between its various regions and localities. Since Emperor Shihuangdi of the Qin dynasty united "China" more than 2,000 years ago, changes in the relationship between China's central government and the localities have been among the most important contradictions in the history of China's society, as well as one of the major threads by which we can trace the history of the rise and fall of China's dynasties. According to a preliminary statistical study, in these 2,000-plus years, about two-thirds of the historical time China was under a unified state, for about one-sixth of the time there was domestic turmoil, and one-sixth of the time there was political division. The system of centralized government and the unification of the state became two of the primary characteristics of China's traditional agrarian society, and yet this centralization of authority in the central government and the division of power with the localities has always been one of the hardest problems to resolve.