About Me

I am a postdoctoral fellow of the Peking-Princeton Postdoctoral Program (PPPP). In AY 2018-19, I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Social Research and the School of Government, Peking University. In AY 2019-20, I will be a postdoctoral research associate at the Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China, Princeton University. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science at Duke University in 2018.

My research interests include authoritarian politics, behavioral politics, the role of information in politics, and political economy of China. My current research projects involve two topics: 1) political selection in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and 2) how the mass public and political elites in China (and across non-democracies) process and respond to political propaganda. My work has been published in Political Communication. My research has been funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation (CCKF), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

Prior to my stay at Duke, I received B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Please feel free to reach me at fengminglu [at] pku.edu.cn.


Lu, Fengming, and Xiao Ma. 2019. “Is Any Publicity Good Publicity? Media Coverage, Party Institutions, and Authoritarian Power-Sharing.” Political Communication 36(1): 64-82. 

Existing literature identifies non-official media as a tool for rulers to gather information from below. We argue that such media also help identify threats among elites. Motivated by profit, partially free media tend to cover politicians who chal- lenge implicit norms of the regime. These political elites are perceived as threats to the power-sharing status quo, which leads peers to sanction them. We test this argument with evidence from the Chinese Communist Party’s intra-party elections of alternate Central Committee members in 2012 and 2007. With Bayesian rank likelihood models, we find that candidates who appeared more frequently in various partially free media received fewer votes from the Party Congress delegates, and this pattern is robust after accounting for a series of alternative explanations. Detailed case studies also show that low-ranked candidates have more partially free media coverage because they broke party norms.

Ungated version with appendix

Working Papers

Ding, Yanqing, Fengming Lu, and Xiaoyang Ye. 2017. “Intergovernmental Transfer under Heterogeneous Accountability: The Effects of the 2006 Chinese Education Finance Reform.”

While intergovernmental transfers are widespread, how local governments in non-democracies allocate fiscal transfers, given they are not electorally accountable, remains unclear. We provide novel natural experimental evidence on how heterogeneous top-down and bottom-up accountabilities affect the allocation of transfer grants in the 2006 Chinese Education Finance Reform. By comparing 1,600 Chinese counties that were treated differently in terms of timing and matching ratios, we show that on average, intergovernmental transfers did not increase total spending levels of public schools even though county governments are formally accountable to upper-level governments. The main causal mechanism is that the transfers crowded out preexisting local public education investments in extra-budgetary accounts that were less closely scrutinized and audited by upper-level governments. Heterogeneity analyses further demonstrate that the policy only improved total spending levels of public schools in counties where public employees had greater means of holding local governments accountable. 

  • Winner of the 2017 Award for Best Papers by Young Scholars, awarded by the Committee of Education Finance, the Chinese Society of Educational Development Strategy.