Image Credit: Cornell University Press.

China's rural modernization campaigns have tended to draw a hint of an eye roll from outside observers.

Yes, but: In her deeply researched new book, "Mobilizing for Development," Kristen Looney, an assistant professor of Asian studies and government at Georgetown University, argues that such campaigns have played a significant role in rural development, not just in China, but also in South Korea and Taiwan.

Key takeaways: “Campaigns, like social movements, can create, destroy, revitalize, or circumvent institutions," Looney writes.

  • "They are a powerful means of mobilizing resources for change and have been frequently used in Leninist systems as a check against bureaucratic ossification.”
  • Interestingly, rural modernization campaigns seem to have been more effective in Taiwan and South Korea than in China, according to Looney's research.

"Campaigns more easily spiral out of control in China," Looney told me in an interview, "because there are so few participatory institutions at the lower level, and because there is such a big gap between central control and local governance."

The big picture: Urban industrialization alone didn't do much to help the poor rural populations across several East Asian countries. Rather, Looney demonstrates, it was an active interventionist state that finally helped mobilize resources so rural areas could get a share of modern prosperity.

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When U.S. politicians exploit foreign disinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. political actors will keep weaponizing the impact of widespread foreign disinformation campaigns on American elections, making these operations that much more effective and attractive to Russia, China, Iran or other countries backing them.

Why it matters: Hostile powers’ disinformation campaigns aim to destabilize the U.S., and each time a domestic politician embraces them, it demonstrates that they work.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 32,471,119 — Total deaths: 987,593 — Total recoveries: 22,374,557Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 7,032,524 — Total deaths: 203,657 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
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Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin: