New paper on prefects during the Qing using the CGED-Q

Hu Heng at the Institute of Qing History at Renmin University just published a paper on the appointment of prefects during the Qing, with Bijia Chen and me as second and third authors. The paper makes use of spatial data as well as the government ratings of prefectures that determined who controlled the appointment of their prefects, and makes use of the CGED-Q to examine the qualifications, and previous and subsequent appointments of prefects. The paper is available here: Here is the abstract:
Prefects played an essential role in the system of local government during the Qing dynasty. Examining the process by which they were appointed, including exceptions and variations, sheds light on the governing strategies of the Qing state. We conduct spatial and quantitative analysis of the appointment of prefects based on the most recent data on the government’s ratings of the significance and difficulty (chongfanpinan and quefen) for each prefecture. The results reveal the importance of the process of appointment of variations across prefectures in transportation, government affairs, revenue collection, and public security. They collectively determined who had the authority to appoint the prefect for a prefecture: the Emperor (gingzhi que), the Board of Personnel (buxuan que), or the Governor-General (tidiao que). Appointments by the Emperor accounted for 48.3 percent of prefectures. These were in the most important regions of the country. Appointments by the Governor-General accounted for 26.1 percent of prefectures. At the beginning they were mainly in the regions where the Miao resided, including Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan. Later, some prefectures on the provincial boundaries were also included. In the late Qing, prefects in all the newly created provinces were appointed by Govermors-General. Appointments by the Board of Personnel accounted for 25.6% of prefectures and they were concentrated in areas close to the boundaries of inland provinces. The spatial distribution of the classifications generally followed the government’s assessment of the difficulties of governing various regions in China, but there were exceptions and problems like the differentiation of treatment in the Southwestern boundary regions, neglect of the change of prefectures and classifications in coastal border areas and qualification immutability. The classification of prefectures was closely related to the appointment of prefects. We analyzed the career histories of 3403 prefects recorded in 37752 entries about Qing civil servants extracted from the 3,000,000 in nearly CGED-Q database. Using STATA to categorize, summarize, correlate and track these data ,, we examine the time trends in the characteristics of prefects, including the proportions of Manchu or Han prefects and their province of origin. For the latter, we focused specifically on the increase in the number of prefects from Hunan in the late Qing period. The results of our analysis make use of new data to advance our understanding of the political geography of China in the late Qing and the Republican periods. Regarding the career transitions in the civil service, 61.9 percent of prefects were transferred from posts in the central govermment and only 35.8 percent were promoted from posts in local govermments. This undoubtedly had a negative effect on the motivation of county magistrates. Prospects for promotion for prefects was generally high: 21 percent would reach higher office. For prefects who served in prefectures categorized as most significant (zuiyao gue) and significant (vao gue), the chance of promotion was between 23.5 and 26.3 percent. Those who were prefects in provincial capitals had even higher chances of being promoted: 40.5 percent. The distribution of control over the appointment of prefects and the institutional changes over time reveal the tension and competition over power between the central and local government. In the Qing, governance at the prefectural level was characterized as "blocking between the upper and the lower [level of government]". This was partly driven by the structure of the system, according to which officials were more likely to manage other officials than govern people, and prefects were more likely to be transferred from the central government than promoted from lower levels of local government. The increased power of Governor-Generals and the prevalence of temporary appointments for prefects may have been responses to these drawbacks, but the imbalance of the distribution of power was also a challenge for the state.
胡恆(Hu Heng), 陳必佳(Bijia Chen) and 康文林(Cameron D. Campbell. 2020. 清代知府選任的空間與量化分析——以政區分等、《縉紳錄》數據庫為中心 (The Appointment of Prefects during the Qing —- A Spatial and Quantitative Analysis Focusing on the System of Administrative Division and Using the CGED-Q). 新亞學報(New Asia Journal).37(August):339-398.