There is some scholarly research on this but it seems a bit dated. I would like to know if there are any updated research opinions on this be they from academia or industry.
Walder (1986) and Oi (1989) seem to have argued along similar lines of Fukuyama in more recent years that Chinese politics can be described as clientelism: factory managers and village leaders have a monopoly on distributing career and livelihood benefits. However, earlier research by Nathan (1973) and Pye (1981) emphasize that clientalistic dynamics are just a means to an end. Such ties are transformed into political factions as officials create networks for political support, thus resembling more of a bureaucratic interest group framework.
Given the limited transparency into the matter (informally referred to as "crypto-politics"), what can we empirically conclude about what theory has been saying for the past few decades in terms of how events actually unfolded in China over the past 10 years? In other words what has held water and what seems debunked?
For the uninitiated:
Note: I wouldn't require answerers to read all that. I summarized it sufficiently above. It's basically clientalism versus bureaucratic interest group politics, which are well-known frameworks within poly-sci. It would suffice to simply hold up those yard sticks to what we've been seeing out of China recently and say "Yay" or "Nay".