The paper investigates the dynamics of local cadre appointment in China by focusing on the relationship between the appointment of prefectural level leading cadres and the tenure of their superior provincial secretaries of the Communist Party of China. We propose a model featuring trade-off between information gain and brain drain as a key mechanism that shapes the dynamics of the appointment. Using unique nation-wide prefectural level Cadre Statistical Data (1983–1998), we find there exists “appointment political cycle” in inverted-U shape over the tenure of the provincial secretary and it peaks in the third year. The inverted-U pattern is mainly driven by the prefectural cadre who had overlapping previous work experience with the incumbent provincial secretary. Both the officially released GDP growth rate and the investment-GDP ratio are greater in prefectures after the appointment of the prefectural secretary or the mayor by the incumbent provincial secretary than those in other prefectures where both the prefectural secretary and the mayor were appointed by previous provincial secretaries. The findings confirm from a perspective of province-prefecture nexus that the personnel control is a fundamental institutional element in China. Although the appointment is subject to personal connections, it appears that the newly appointed cadres are able to generate better economic performance.