About Me

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Duke University. In AY 2018-2020, I will be a postdoctoral fellow of the Peking-Princeton Postdoctoral Program (PPPP). My research interests include authoritarian politics, behavioral politics, the role of information in politics, and political economy of China. My research has been published in Political Communication.


Lu, Fengming, and Xiao Ma. Forthcoming. “Is Any Publicity Good Publicity? Media Coverage, Party Institutions, and Authoritarian Power-Sharing.” Political Communication

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 hetero- geneous 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.