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Journal of Current Chinese Affairs

Editorial to the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 2/2014. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

Introduction to Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 2/2014: Western-Chinese Academic Collaboration in Social Sciences 2014/07/10 - 22:28

For more than two decades, the National Planning Office for Philosophy and Social Sciences (NPOPSS) has been managing official funding of social science research in China under the orbit of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) propaganda system. By focusing on “Major Projects”, the most prestigious and well-funded program initiated by the NPOPSS in 2004, this contribution outlines the political and institutional ramifications of this line of official funding and attempts to identify larger shifts during the past decade in the “ideologics” of official social science research funding – the changing ideological circumscriptions of research agendas in the more narrow sense of echoing party theory and rhetoric and – in the broader sense – of adapting to an increasingly dominant official discourse of cultural and national self-assertion. To conclude, this article offers reflections on the potential repercussions of these shifts for international academic collaboration. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

Over the past three decades, China’s fast economic development has induced considerable changes in China’s university and research institution landscape, research financing and academic career incentives. This paper argues that these changes have affected the motivation and the ways in which Chinese scholars engage in international research cooperation. Most recently it has been observed that strong pressures on scholars and scientists – especially at leading academic institutions – to excel in international publications while simultaneously fulfilling their obligation to generate income for their institutions can lead to a dilemma with regard to international research cooperation: Those institutions and scholars most interesting for foreign scholars to cooperate with may be the ones with the least amount of both incentive and time to enter into serious cooperation. This article invites us to reflect on the implications of these changes in the incentive structure for cooperation in social science research on China. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

This paper discusses how cooperation between Chinese researchers and their foreign counterparts has changed. The paper draws on current literature and the author’s experience as a researcher in the US and in China, arguing that while cooperation has increased overall, it has done so in ways that have crowded out old forms of cooperation or made them passé. The paper focuses particularly on how changes at leading Chinese research institutions have impacted international cooperation, both positively and negatively, and suggests ways in which foreign scholars might effectively pursue new avenues for cooperation and exchange. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

In the era of the “scientific development concept” of the Hu/Wen leadership, agents of knowledge transfer that eventually translates into policy comprise not only think tanks for policy formulation in central-state institutions but also researchers in universities supporting policy implementation at local levels. Well-established patterns of local scientific advisory frame collaborative fieldwork in Sino-Western scientific projects on local governance. However, there is a gap between our active integration into these patterns during fieldwork and our ability to clarify them as resources, reconstruct the selection of research topics and contextualize the research results within our academic discourses. Analysing site-finding, data collection, aggregation and dissemination of a research project with Chinese public health researchers on rural health service reform in Xinjiang between 2005 and 2010, I argue that fieldwork and the role performed as a scientific advisor for the political principal is the localized and daily interface where politics crosses into science. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

Field research in China often requires the researcher to cooperate with two kinds of actors: research collaborators, such as those at universities or official think tanks, and local officials. These actors facilitate or enhance field access, but such access comes at the price of a potential “pre-selection bias” in data collection. Some scholars have argued that dependence on these “gatekeepers” introduces a significant bias into research outcomes. I argue, however, that the constraints faced by China scholars in their field studies are not absolute, but function by degree. The CCP is monolithic neither in its organization nor in the thoughts of its agents, and close collaboration with local partners can help remove normative bias rather than necessarily introducing it. Most importantly, an argument built exclusively on the power of structural constraints discounts China scholars’ most crucial abilities: to learn, to think critically and to research holistically. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

This paper examines two cases of Zhuang religious revival involving multiple actors. It shows how consideration of “superstition” (迷信, mixin) places some religious practice outside the institutional framework when discussing the modern concept of religion in China. In this paper, I particularly focus on two main dimensions of religious revival among the Zhuang people. The first is a grassroots dimension that involves the revival of a so-called “superstitious” cult in which Zhuang people along the Sino-Vietnamese border carry out shamanic rituals to make offerings to a powerful chief-turned-deity, Nong Zhigao, and his wife. The second dimension is a top-down dynamic and involves a series of projects conducted by Zhuang officials, scholars and business persons, which aim to standardize a Zhuang religion, known as Mo religion. These two cases of religious revival demonstrate the varied strategies utilized by different actors in response to government policies regarding religion in China. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

The Nuosu are a subgroup of the so-called Yi ethnic group. Today around two million Nuosu live in Liangshan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province and translocal urban contexts, such as Chengdu and Beijing. For many centuries, the Nuosu have cultivated a belief system composed of a combination of animism and ancestor worship. Since the resurrection of religious activity across China that began in the early 1980s, this faith – represented by the three types of religious practitioners known as bimo, sunyi, and monyi – has reportedly been experiencing a comprehensive revival at folk level. For the bimo, this revival has been paralleled and increasingly overlaid by a scholarly reappraisal of Nuosu religion under premises other than religious. Bimo practice and identity have thus become subsumed under the illustrious concept of “bimo culture”. In this article, I trace the genealogy of the concept of “bimo culture” as part of a cultural canon of and for the Yi which is intended to promote development at the local level but which is also contributing to a weakening of the status of the bimo and Nuosu ritual life in Liangshan today. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

The relation between ethnicity and religion has had a troubled history in the People’s Republic of China. Conflating religious practice with ethnic culture is considered to carry the risk of breeding “splittism” – especially in Tibet and Xinjiang. While in the post-Mao era the outright hostility against religion has given way to a religious revival, keeping religion and (nationality) politics separate has remained a major concern for the Chinese Communist Party. Religion is supposed to be a private matter that does not interfere with pol-itics. Against this backdrop, a recent phenomenon in the Tibet Autonomous Region is all the more remarkable: the (re-)fusion of ethnicity and religion under the label of cultural heritage and its protection. This paper approaches this officially endorsed re-fusion ethno-graphically and examines its wider implications. I argue that endorsing religion as an attribute of Tibetan heritage corresponds to the concept of defining public spaces and events in which religious practice is legitimate and expected. Simultaneously, religious practices outside these dedicated spaces and events become even more problematic, leading to everyday Buddhist practices, such as circumambulation, being seen as (and performed as) political acts. 2014/07/10 - 22:28

Introduction to Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 1/2014: Understanding Chinese–African Interactions in Africa 2014/04/12 - 23:23

China’s renewed engagement with Africa is often framed as a form of imperialism, with the growing number of Chinese migrants on the continent seen as an exploitative presence. Such claims have generally been based on little evidence, and where more detailed empirical studies have emerged, they tend to emphasise the tensions and conflicts that have arisen. Our research on Chinese migrants in Ghana and Nigeria suggests that while there are concerns about Chinese competition in the informal retail sector and the treatment of local labour in Chinese enterprises, narratives of apparent tension and conflict are often much more nuanced than is generally recognised. Furthermore, more convivial and cooperative relations have also emerged and these have facilitated important opportunities for Africans to benefit from the Chinese presence. However, while the presence of Chinese migrants in African socio-economic life can be more integrated and mutually beneficial than is often assumed, the ability of African actors to benefit from this presence is highly uneven, placing the politics of class at the centre of any understanding of Sino-African encounters. 2014/04/12 - 23:23

The sense of mystery around Chinese presences in Angola impels researchers to understand not only the empirical details of economic transactions and diplomatic partnerships but also the various ways in which the actors involved make sense of a novel social, political, and economic configuration. By drawing several ethnographic portraits of the social practices and discursive strategies at play in Chinese–Angolan relations, I show how, in a context of mutual uncertainty and suspicion, appeals to “security” play a central role. Instead of viewing Chinese and Angolans as two separate groups with opposed interests and lack of communication between them, I explore how participation in a shared context generates common modes of explanation. Moreover, I propose a parallel analysis of state-level negotiations alongside everyday social encounters to consider how a political economic partnership between China and Angola is lived through the everyday negotiations of Chinese and Angolan residents in Luanda. 2014/04/12 - 23:23

Burkina Faso currently has no diplomatic relationship whatsoever with the People’s Republic of China. Engaged in cooperation with Taiwan since 1994, it is one of only three African countries not a part of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation. This unusual situation has produced a unique manifestation of the Chinese presence in Burkina Faso, where the estimated 600 Chinese migrants are primarily private entrepreneurs. This phenomenon of “globalization from below” – or, this migration of entrepreneurs that transcends the absence of diplomatic relations – creates new intimate social relations between the Burkinabe and Chinese people who come into contact with each other. Far from simply turning Chinese and Burkinabe into economic competitors, these relations have also led to the emergence of many forms of interpersonal and business cooperation. In this paper, I therefore demonstrate how Sino-African cooperation from below has developed in Burkina Faso, which stands in radical contrast to the latter’s cooperation with Taiwan, which takes place almost exclusively on a broader state-to-state level. The empirical evidence of this study is drawn from field survey interviews and observations of both Chinese and Burkinabe entrepreneurs in Burkina Faso between 2010 and 2011. 2014/04/12 - 23:23

The paper presents a single case study of how one Chinese firm operates in Dar es Salaam and how the firm’s embeddedness and unique managerial style in the local context affect local benefits for Tanzanian employees. The results demonstrate the need to fill a gap in the knowledge about Chinese economic activities in Africa, par-ticularly in relation to the cultural constructs present in manager-employee interactions. The findings paint a picture of a firm that intends to localize its business strategies and engage a local labour force, but similarly reveals the inherent cultural, behavioural and social norms of Chinese management, which may create organizational challenges and power differentials in the workplace. 2014/04/12 - 23:23

This paper analyses the context in which a group of African workers interact with their Chinese employers within a specific ethno- graphic space: Chinese-owned shops in Kampala, Uganda. By exploring enjawulo, the locally embedded cultural, social and economic notion of work and labour, I reveal how relations between Chinese employers and Ugandan employees are shaped by the former’s knowledge and acceptance of this practice. This analytical lens contextualises the two groups’ divergent goals, opinions and aspirations, examines the interpersonal dimensions of their social relations, and also analyses employers’ and employees’ opinions on labour conflicts, cooperation and understanding. The goal of the paper is to explore and deconstruct the context in which Chinese store owners and their local employees interact, cohabit, and sometimes even find common ground, despite markedly different economic, social, cultural, racial and linguistic backgrounds. 2014/04/12 - 23:23

Climate protection issues are receiving more attention in China. Responding to this survey, 133 environmental and climate protection experts indicated that the government is a key factor in raising awareness of climate protection in China. Experts participating in the survey also referred to the role of the media – in particular social media – NGOs and educational institutions in spreading climate protection awareness. Additionally, interviews were carried out with 40 of the experts, who were grouped into different categories to discover whether there were any striking differences of opinion between experts of different backgrounds. Their assessments revealed few statistically relevant differences, though some are worth noting: Chinese researchers, project managers and representatives of NGOs were more positive than international experts regarding the impact of the Rio+20 conference on climate change discourse in China. Also, the youngest experts with the least international experience evaluated the potential of green volunteer work highest. 2014/04/12 - 23:23

The recent rapprochement between China and Taiwan cannot be understood if our conceptual apparatus is unable to cope with the distinctive new quality of cross-Strait relations. A critical framework provides a transnational account of cross-Strait dynamics. An analysis of the KMT–CCP Forum through the lens of the neo-Gramscian notion of hegemony sheds light on the Forum’s strategies, mechanisms, practices and instruments to secure consent for cross-Strait rapprochement. While this mode of governance has broadened the KMT’s strategic options, it has also compromised Taiwanese democracy. 2014/04/12 - 23:23

Introduction to Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 4/2013: Rebalancing China's Political Economy 2014/01/11 - 22:18

This article gives a broad characterization of China’s political economy, as well as specific aspects of its socio-economic instabilities. With a focus on China’s export-oriented industry sectors, concepts from comparative and international political economy are applied to show how the Chinese economy can be understood as a variegated form of state-permeated capitalism that at the same time is deeply integrated into world economic processes. The article goes on to portray the socio-economic dynamics, as well as the instabilities of China’s new capitalism, that are at the root of the state leadership’s attempts to turn away from a one-sided model of export and investment-driven growth. Thereby, a number of obstacles are revealed for the “rebalancing” of the economy: a continued dependence on exports, a lack of domestic consumer demand which impedes a significant “social” upgrading, the ongoing low-wage model for which there is no end in sight, the limits of the state’s steering capacity and the weaknesses of its fragmented, competition-driven structure. 2014/01/11 - 22:18

This article provides an analysis of policy initiatives aimed at rebalancing China’s political economy, especially those contained in the 12th Five Year Plan and other recent pronouncements. The objective is to generate a conceptual examination of these policy measures, thereby highlighting their basic intent and purpose. The analysis shows that the Chinese leadership intends to pursue policies that can centralize, standardize and regulate the political economy under continued state guidance. Due to the considerable political obstacles that Chinese policy-makers face in rebalancing the political economy, a more state-centric approach is seen as necessary. China is therefore pursuing a policy package of refurbishing state capitalism. While a degree of liberalization is likely to be undertaken, the major thrust is one of revamping, restructuring and, ultimately, strengthening state control and guidance over the political economy. 2014/01/11 - 22:18

China’s financial system, dominated by the banking sector, has played a central role in the development of an imbalanced trajectory of economic development and growth. As one of the primary mechanisms for implementing decisive macro-economic policy, the banking sector has hitherto served the Chinese growth strategy well in actively allocating capital towards the investment and export sectors, whilst proving capable of managing the macro-economic ramifications of this highly inter-ventionist strategy. However, the role of the financial system in this growth strategy is also rooted in the requirement that authority over financial capital remains closely tied to state institutions and policies, due to elite concern over politico-economic instability. Based on policy analysis and qualitative interviews conducted in mid-2012, the article suggests that whilst the structure of the financial system was conducive to fostering the growth of the real economy, it will hold back not the need for rebalancing, but rather the process of rebalancing itself. 2014/01/11 - 22:18

This paper develops a new approach to analyse labour relations at the level of companies, industries, and regions in China. Referring to Western and Chinese labour sociology and industrial relations theory, the author applies the concept of “regimes of production” to the context of China’s emerging capitalism. This article focuses on China’s modern core manufacturing industries (i.e. steel, chemical, auto, electronics, and textile and garment); it explores regimes of production in major corporations and new forms of labour-management cooperation, the growing inequality and fragmentation of labour policies within the modern sectors of the Chinese economy, consequences for further reform regarding labour standards, collective bargaining, and workers’ participation. 2014/01/11 - 22:18

Based on field studies in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) in 2010 and 2011, specific paths of industrial upgrading in the garment and IT industries are identified. The analysis reveals that there exists a multiplicity of upgrading trajectories, all of which have different implications for skill development and the character of work. While the modernization of industries relies on the input of higher skilled work, primarily in the fields of R&D and marketing, this barely is the case with regard to manufacturing. While labour intensity in the examined cases is diminishing in absolute or relative terms, internal divisions between low-skilled and high-skilled work are reconfigured rather than overcome. 2014/01/11 - 22:18

Through two illustrative case studies of enterprise reform in Henan Province, we examine the underlying political contentions behind the changing roles of local government in the process of the corporatization and asset restructuring of state-owned enterprises (SOE) starting in the late 1990s. As SOEs lose their ability to meet the multitude of resource demands from central and local officials, they become sites of inter-governmental conflicts that produce a no-win situation for the SOE and fiscal and social uncertainties for those communities trying to exit the socialist economy. Our first case study is Puyang municipal government, which leveraged its regulatory authority to exact heavy side-payments in return for not obstructing the corporatization of Zhongyuan Oilfield; the second case involves Zhengzhou city officials colluding with provincial bureaucrats and the state-appointed managers of the Yutong Bus Company in an insider privatization that effectively circumvented a specific Ministry of Finance prohibition. 2014/01/11 - 22:18

Introduction to Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 3/2013: Local Autonomy and Welfare Policy in Greater China 2013/09/25 - 20:25

China’s welfare system is a typical “residual welfare regime”, which did not manifest too many flaws in the planned economy era. However, economic reform and market-oriented transformations in recent decades have shaken the original well-balanced “residual” and “needs” pattern. The decline of the “work unit system” has led to two consequences: First, it radically transformed the social and economic structures, which gave rise to increased and diversified needs of social welfare. Second, the government is being pressed to shoulder more responsibility for social welfare provisions. This article adopts a case study approach to examine changing social welfare needs and expectations in Guangzhou, a relatively developed city in southern China. With particular focus on the major strategies adopted by the Guangzhou government in addressing people’s welfare needs, this article critically examines how far the new measures have met the changing welfare expectations of citizens in mainland China. 2013/09/25 - 20:25

This paper investigates how Beijing governs its two special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau through leverages on their local autonomy. First, a conceptual analysis of local autonomy will be provided. Local autonomy is more than a zero-sum game between the central and local authorities over how much power should be granted or taken from the local authorities; it also concerns the space for cultural expression and the use of local customs in public administration. Second, the degree of local autonomy in Hong Kong and Macau will be critically examined. On paper, both SAR governments are able to freely make decisions on a wide range of policies. In practice, however, Beijing has the absolute authority to override the decisions of Hong Kong and Macau. It is argued that the autonomy in cultural expression can compensate for the institutional constraints on the two SARs’ decision-making power and is thus able to alleviate public discontent – as long as the constraints do not conflict with the people’s core values and ways of life. 2013/09/25 - 20:25

This paper aims to highlight the significance of labour issues – namely, the minimum wage (MW) and standard working hours (SWH) – in shaping candidates’ electoral platforms in the 2012 chief executive (CE) election of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) under the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). We first offer a brief review of labour politics regarding the MW case as a precursor to the SWH drafting and enactment process. We then provide an analytical delineation of some of the labour and socio-economic dimensions of the CE electoral contest by comparing the candidates’ campaign planks in relation to SWH. We then attempt to predict the likely course of the SWH debate under the leadership of Leung Chun-ying, who eventually won the CE election and assumed power on 1 July 2012. We conclude by examining Leung’s social engineering attempts to increase popular support amongst low- and middle-income (LMI) households as part of his long-term strategy for the 2017 CE elections and his broader Beijing-entrusted political agenda. 2013/09/25 - 20:25

In 2011, Hong Kong SAR government announced an unprecedented policy of cash handouts of 6,000 HKD to all permanent residents at the age of 18 or above as a means of defusing public discontent with economic policy and poor governance. Macau SAR has also been distributing similar cash handouts since 2008 to temper public dissatisfaction and widespread demonstrations. Initially, both SAR governments were very reluctant to initiate universal cash handouts. Unlike standard welfare programmes that are budgeted for annually, the cash payment scheme in Hong Kong SAR was a one-off handout. In Macau SAR, however, the payment scheme went from being a short-term policy to a long-term policy, while other welfare programmes were also allocated more public money. This paper argues that although such cash handout policies are avoidable, they are still being adopted by politicians who place self-interest above the public interest. 2013/09/25 - 20:25

In recent years, the Chinese government has increasingly utilised online consultation as a means of providing citizens with opportunities to offer feedback on draft laws and regulations. As little is known about the operation of online consultation, this article analyses the content of citizen feedback submitted on a revision to China’s health system proposed by the National Development and Reform Commission. Citizen engagement with the political and substantive issues under consideration is crucial if online consultation is to impact government decision-making and enhance the performance of laws and regulations. This paper’s main findings are that it was common for comments to address substantive issues in great depth, as well as express negative assessments of government decisions. This suggests that online consultation holds promise as an instrument of governance reform, which the Chinese Communist Party has embraced as a means of cultivating popular support. 2013/09/25 - 20:25

This study looks at Chinese homeowners’ participation in policymaking. Drawing on evidence from Guangzhou and Beijing, it shows that various organised homeowner activists have moved upstream in the policy process and have begun to push beyond policy implementation into the domain of agenda setting and “rule-making”. These advocates display rights-conscious patterns of behaviour that are closer to that of interest or lobby groups than to the typical repertoire of Chinese contentious citizens. The study suggests that this kind of political participation is on the rise amongst Chinese homeowner activists. This result complements and extends other recent findings that suggest the Chinese policy process is gradually opening up. Such a trend could have significant implications and calls for more research in different domains of state-society relations. 2013/09/25 - 20:25

This article surveys the complex ecumenical, missionary and international church relations of Chinese Protestant Christians. It argues that the inter-church relations to other parts of Asia are overshadowed by relations to Christians in the West, thus reflecting a political preoccupation with relationships to the West. This is evidenced by an analysis of worldwide and Asian ecumenism as well as bilateral church and missionary relationships. The dominance of contacts with the West not only contradicts the idea of a multipolar world and increased South-South contacts, it also stands in contrast to the reality of growing and increasingly important Christianity in Asia. Methodologically, this paper analyses different kinds of international relations (multilateral and bilateral, inter-church and missionary) and develops a typology of different inter-church and inter-state relations to assess international church relations in Asia today. The typology shows how China’s international church relations support its political relationships with its neighbours and beyond. 2013/09/25 - 20:25

Introduction to Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 2/2013: Preserving Stability: Process, Dimensions and Ideological Exercise 2013/06/19 - 23:40

The creation of a new administrative institution known as the “Stability Preservation Office” at the central level, which is overseen by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee and has branches at every local level, from streets and townships to enterprises, and has extraordinary powers to override other regular institutions and branches of government, is a clear indication that the Chinese government’s efforts to preserve stability are not limited to the conventional business of crime control or public security. This paper traces the origin of the discourse and practice of preserving stability and the rights defence movement in China, investigating the interplay or interaction between the two. It examines the end and the means of stability preservation, explores whether the measures taken by the government to preserve stability or the rights protection actions taken by citizens are the root cause of social unrest, and whether the suppression of discontent or the improvement of human rights and social justice is the better way to achieve social stability in contemporary China. It contributes to our understanding of emerging state-society relations and the latest social and political trends in China. 2013/06/19 - 23:40

This paper considers the process of constructing the official discourse of weiwen (维稳, stability preservation) in the policing arena in the first decade of the 21st century. It focuses on the pivotal period after 2003 when policing priorities were shifted from “striking hard” at serious crime to pursuing weiwen to contain burgeoning protests and civil dissent, as a move to maintain stability in the early to mid years of the Hu Jintao–Wen Jiabao harmonious society era. We observe how Mao has been central in this process. Stability preservation operations have been rationalised through Maoist ideology using some staples of Maoist discourse, particularly “social contradictions”, and policing authorities have adopted key methodological aspects of Maoist campaign-style policing to embed this new weiwen focus in the everyday agendas of policing, while ever more “mass incidents” disrupt the maintenance of stability in China. 2013/06/19 - 23:40

In response to worsening social instability in China, among grassroots communities in the poorer central and western provinces in particular, the Chinese central government has made budgetary arrangements, since 2003, to increase investment at the grassroots level to improve the capacity of local governments to maintain social order. However, this action by central government has created a dilemma for local cadres: how to perform their duty to maintain social stability while also balancing a heavy fiscal burden caused in part by the receipt of insufficient additional budgetary subsidies from higher government. This paper is an account of and an analysis of how local cadres in China perform their official duties when faced with this dilemma. 2013/06/19 - 23:40

This article focuses on the specific forms of power that are embodied in the properties and functions of formalised language, as it was used by Jiang Zemin in crucial political documents on the Party’s policy towards intellectuals. This inquiry illuminates various possibilities for the normalisation and inculcation of formalised language in the understudied decade of the 1990s, when the mantra “without stability, nothing can be achieved” became a tautology. The internal constitution of the selected texts is examined with an eye to the dialogic interaction with the production and reception of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping’s political discourses on intellectuals (Mao 1942; Deng 1978). The analysis of language practices and discursive formations in a comparative per-spective sheds light on the respective socio-political and historical contexts. It also reveals the extreme involution-devolution of formalised language in the Jiang Zemin era, when “preserving stability” was reaffirmed as a crucial concern of the Party leadership with the ultimate aim of preserving its monopoly of power. 2013/06/19 - 23:40

The rise of stability preservation to dominance in the political order coincided with a highly charged debate over “universal values” and a closely related discussion of a “China Model”. This paper analyses the critique of universal values as a “wedge issue” that is used to pre-empt criticism of the party-state by appealing to nationalism and cultural essentialism. Taking freedom as a case in point of a universal value, it shows that, while more developed in the West, freedom has an authentic Chinese history with key watersheds in the late Qing reception of popular sovereignty and the ending of the Maoist era. The work of Wang Ruoshui, Qin Hui and Xu Jilin display some of the resources liberals now bring to “de-wedging” universal values, not least freedom. They share a refusal to regard “Western” values as essentially hostile to Chinese. 2013/06/19 - 23:40

Based on detailed ethnographic fieldwork, this paper compares two cases of peasant protest against heavy taxes and fees in a northern Hunan county in the 1990s. It argues that peasant protest did not arise spontaneously. Rather, it erupted when leaders emerged who used central policy documents on lowering peasant taxes and fees to mobilise peasants. Protest leaders were articulate and public-spirited peasants who had received political training from the local party-state. Furthermore, the number of leaders, their education level, and their relationship with the local party-state explain why the repertoire and the scope of the two protests varied. Protests led by less educated veteran Communist Party cadres tended to be milder and smaller than those led by better-educated peasants more distant from the local party-state. This paper helps us to understand the process of peasant mobilisation in contemporary China and explains why peasant protest varies across cases. 2013/06/19 - 23:40