Jump to Issue:
Issue 44 (July 1997)
Stephen L. Morgan
Richer and Taller: Stature and Living Standards in China, 1979-1995
Economic reform has transformed China's economy, raising incomes and reducing the incidence of poverty. That the rise in family incomes has improved the nutritional status of the Chinese is no better illustrated than by the increase in the average heights of school-age children, as measured in large-scale surveys since the late 1970s. Despite an upward trend in stature, there are large differences between provinces that correlate with regional variations in economic development. Unsurprisingly, children in the coastal provinces are better off and taller, but there have also been declines in stature in some provinces, indicating that nutrition among some populations groups at certain periods during the early years of economic reform may have been worse than in the pre-reform era. Unlike conventional economic studies of regional inequality, which rely on indicators such as per capita income, this study's use of anthropometric data (height and weight) provides an alternative measure of the well-being of the Chinese since the late Maoist period.
Subsistence Crises, Managerial Corruption and Labour Protests in China
Labour protests by laid-off Chinese workers are largely motivated by a subsistence crisis. When workers feel managerial corruption in factories has exacerbated their economic plight, their sense of injustice is intensified, further inflaming their militancy. But what workers have suffered and how they feel about it are not enough to cause action. The increase in the number of protests has been facilitated by changed institutional parameters. The disintegration of enterprise paternalism has reduced the economic cost to workers of being involved in protests. In addition, the state's reluctance to repress demonstrations has rendered protests politically less risky. This paper finds labour protests tend to be spontaneous, leaderless and characterised by narrow and enterprise-specific claims. However, once corruption becomes an issue of 'who gets what and how' in the new economic regime, protests about a subsistence crisis take on a political tone.
Xinjiang in the Nineties
This article argues that agricultural policies, massive investment in capital and infrastructure and large reclamation programs in China's western Xinjiang province have been part of a deliberate, albeit covert, plan by the central authorities to give new impetus to Han colonisation of the province after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the newly independent central Asian States across the border. The paper argues that the rise in violent protests by the Uighurs - the main local ethnic group - should not be attributed merely to the rise of ethno-national and Islamic-inspired political movements but more widely to the intense pressures exerted by Beijing's determination to integrate this territorial periphery, still largely populated by non-Han peoples, into China.
Murray Scot Tanner
State Coercion and the Balance of Awe: The 1983-1986 "Stern Blows" Anti-Crime Campaign
How can China reform the coercive role of the state and build a legal system while fighting rising crime rates? Drawing on extensive new police materials, this article re-examines the origins, development, and long-term impact of the 1983-86 "Stern Blows" (Yanda) anti-crime campaign - the bloodiest chapter in post-Mao politics, and one of the two defining incidents in the struggle to reform the coercive role of the state. Questioning several standard explanations, this article contends that the campaign was a violent effort by the Party-state to reclaim the "balance of awe" among the Party-state, criminals and citizen activists. Senior leaders perceived that citizen activists - on whom the police system depends - were becoming more fearful of the increasingly assertive criminals than they were of the Party-state. These officials, especially Deng Xiaoping, decided that only an "awesome" reassertion of Party-state power would restore "deterrence" of criminals and reassure citizen activists that when they cooperated with the state, they were not only fighting on the side of law, but also on the side of power. The campaign quickly spun out of control when power was transferred to those institutions least interested in protecting any semblance of legal procedure - in particular local Party officials. Public Security critics and defenders of the campaign continue to debate the effectiveness and "institutional lessons" of campaign-style policing, and these debates remain a major force in China's continuing struggle over reforming the coercive role of the state and building a "rule by law".
Cultural Life and Cultural Control in Rural China: Where is the Party?
This report, based on fieldwork in Xuanwei county, Yunnan province, looks at how the Communist Party has reacted to changes in rural culture over the past decade. The role of the market has been rapidly expanding in Xuanwei's cultural life, and by the end of the 1990s, the political elite could no longer directly control cultural production and consumption. However, the Party has developed more indirect methods of control over commercialized culture. In the villages the Party is trying to regain lost territory through what it presents as a civilizing project aimed at such phenomena as popular religion, the lineage system and the loss of socialist values.