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Issue 59 (January 2008)
Social conflict and modes of action in China
Social conflicts, popular resistance, and social stability coexist in China today, and this coexistence has to do with the existing modes of conflict resolution. Based on a national survey of 10,372 people in 2005, this paper examines Chinese citizens' choice of the mode of conflict resolution. It finds that some traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution are still commonly used by citizens, but the law also has become an increasingly important mechanism. While the existing mechanisms provide citizens with access to justice, they also have limitations. These limitations have discouraged some citizens from taking action to address their grievances, but they have also prompted others to take more drastic or even illegal modes of action. Paradoxically, the limitations of the permitted modes of action become the driving forces for institution building as long as the party-state wishes to institutionalize the resolution of social conflicts.
Boss Christians: The Business of Religion in the Wenzhou Model of Christian Revival
Since the 1990s Wenzhou has gained fame as a regional center of global capitalism and as China's Jerusalem, a center for Chinese Christianity. A new entrepreneurial class of Christians, known as boss Christians, has emerged and spearheaded local church development. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores the intimate cultural linkage between the entrepreneurial outlook of the boss Christians and local church development. Wenzhou Christian entrepreneurial logic results in the capitalist consumerist production of church development and enables the refashioning of Chinese Christianity, a marginalized rural social institution in the popular imagination, into a modern urban institution. At the same time this upwardly mobile class of believers refashions their class identities, from village entrepreneurs with limited education to highly cultivated Christian leaders. Thus they convert economic resources into cultural capital. The cultural phenomenon of boss Christians provides a lens for understanding the desires, choices and actions of China's new rich and sheds light on the formation of a new local elite in reform-era urban China.
Hualing Fu and Richard Cullen
Weiquan (Rights Protection) Lawyering in an Authoritarian State: Building a Culture of Public-interest Lawyering
One of the boldest initiatives in the last decade has been the reform of the legal profession in the PRC. Today the PRC has a rapidly growing, private legal sector which is taking legal development in some interesting new directions. Without question, the Chinese Communist Party wants to manage the outcomes of the legal profession privatization so as to buttress its own position. But it is clear the process of privatization has unleashed a range of consequential changes. Private lawyers are organizing as a profession and arguing their corners within the One Party State with growing vigour. Numbers of lawyers are tackling an ever widening range of issues - drawing new disputes into the legal system. While the legal profession in China, like that elsewhere, is largely profit-driven, a small, but fast increasing, number of private lawyers are developing a keen interest in cases of real social impact, thus affecting public interest, cases that the state is also watching closely. This paper, through interviewing weiquan (rights protection) lawyers in China, studies the emergence of the growing group of private lawyers who are developing profiles as rights protection lawyers-activists, lawyers who advocate interests that are larger than those of their immediate clients who have retained their legal services.
Representing Corporate Culture in China: Official, Academic and Corporate Perspectives
The focus of this paper is the recent explosion of interest in the concept of "corporate culture" (qiye wenhua) among large Chinese corporations. First, the paper surveys some non-Chinese definitions of corporate culture to show how the concept has been used outside China to explain corporate behavior and supposedly improve corporate performance. It then compares "official" (that is, Chinese government) representations of corporate culture with academic and corporate representations, arguing that the Chinese government has co-opted this foreign concept, promoted it among Chinese corporations, and in the process re-defined corporate culture to make it a vehicle for the government's own policy priorities. Case studies of five large Chinese corporations of different ownership types are used to demonstrate how corporations appear to be complying with the official requirements for corporate culture. The paper concludes that the corporate culture phenomenon in China is a pragmatic process of adaptation and accommodation by various corporate stakeholders, including the CCP, corporate managers, and employees, and reveals a uniquely Chinese ideal of the business corporation, as a hybrid economic–politico–cultural organization dedicated to national and individual improvement and renewal.
From Local Experiments to National Policy: The Origins of China's Distinctive Policy Process
Decentralized policy experimentation (a process in which central policy-makers encourage local officials to try out new ways of problem-solving and then feed the local experiences back into national policy formulation) has been a pervasive feature in China’s economic transformation. The pervasiveness of “proceeding from point to surface” (youdian daomian) in making policy suggests an entrenched legitimacy of decentralized experimentation that goes far beyond the sporadic local experiments that were carried out, for example, in the paradigmatic Party-state of the Soviet Union.
The Chinese “point-to-surface” technique gives room to local officials to develop models on their own, while ultimate control over confirming, revising, terminating or spreading model experiments rests with top-level decision-makers. Generally, policy generation through local experiment and model demonstration has helped to provide a productive link between central and local initiative in China’s economic rise.
The methods and the terminology of Chinese-style experimentation under hierarchy are so idiosyncratic that an exploration of their political origins is necessary. This article demonstrates that basic concepts of policy experimentation were pioneered by Republican Era intellectual and administrative reformers, yet transformed into a methodology of generating practicable policies for making revolution by the Chinese Communists in their base areas during the 1930s and 1940s. From then on, “experimental points” and the “point-to-surface” technique became a major element in the Communists’ approach to policy-making, although political and ideological contexts changed significantly over time. Reform-era policy-makers, in their search for new policy instruments to facilitate rapid economic modernization, drew extensively on the inherited repertoire of experimentation, yet redefined the objectives and context of policy-making in a radical way.