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Issue 60 (July 2008)
Xiaojiang Hu and Miguel A. Salazar
Ethnicity, Rurality and Status: Hukou and the Institutional and Cultural Determinants of Social Status in Tibet
This paper examines the interaction of ethnicity and rural–urban status in creating social status distinctions in China’s ethnic regions, using the example of Tibet. The paper argues that social status in Tibet involves three dimensions: 1) China’s dominant hukou system, which strongly privileges urban residents regardless of ethnicity; 2) ethnic policies that give urban Tibetans economic and social privileges; 3) a local “class” tradition that equates lower caste with certain occupations and traits. Because the hukou system is the dominant (and state-enforced) classifier of social distinction in present-day China, the issue of ethnicity becomes heavily “cross-classified” with “rurality”. As a result, even in a locale such as Lhasa, where ethnic consciousness should be activated by the ongoing political conflict, status does not divide neatly along ethnic lines. There exists in Tibet a privileged urban stratum of ethnic Tibetans, a small urban Han élite, a large group of rural Han migrants who are marginalized and a highly disadvantaged group of rural ethnic Tibetans. The paper explores both how the status system developed historically and how current residents of Lhasa perceive the status boundaries that separate the various groups. Understanding the complexity of social status in Tibet should increase our awareness of the interaction of rural status and ethnicity and of the impact of rurality on conceptions of status distinction elsewhere in China.
Qian Forrest Zhang and John A. Donaldson
The Rise of Agrarian Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Agricultural Modernization, Agribusiness and Collective Land Rights
Agribusinesses, of all forms, shapes and sizes, are re-organizing the distribution and utilization of productive factors (labor, land and capital) in China by transforming the country’s traditional household-based operation toward scaled-up, specialized, commercialized and vertically integrated agriculture. Through extensive fieldwork in Shandong and Yunnan, five forms of interactions between farmers and agribusiness can now be identified and differentiated based on the political and social effects on China’s farmers. In this process, China’s unique system of land rights has acted as a powerful force in shaping interactions between agribusiness and direct producers, providing farmers with a source of economic income and political bargaining power, as well as constraining the ability of corporate actors to dispossess farmers of their land.
Macroeconomic Disequilibria and Enterprise Reform: Restructuring the Chinese Oil and Petrochemical Industries in the 1990s
In 1993 and 1998, plummeting global crude oil prices threatened macroeconomic stability and the commercial viability of domestic oil and petrochemical industries in China. Interestingly, Chinese central economic planners responded differently over time—in 1993, Zhu Rongji adopted a decentralized approach of relaxing the ministerial division of labor and devolving strategic and financial decisions to individual SOEs, while leaning on pricing and tax mechanisms to balance the conflicting interests of the oil and petrochemical producers. In contrast, in 1998 Zhu pushed for the recentralization of control over state assets through Western forms of corporate organization and the consolidation of SOEs’ share of the national market, coupled with significant liberalization of the pricing and trade regimes. I argue that the differences in reform outcomes stemmed from the intervening impacts of the general macroeconomic and industry-specific aggregate supply and demand imbalances. These “disequilibria” altered the relative interests and capabilities of Chinese central bureaucrats, local states and industrial entities to adjust to global price shocks, such that by 1998, the broad coalition in support of decentralized reform paradigm had neither the interest nor the resources to continue defending the status quo. Seizing this political opportunity, the central government leveraged its enhanced financial and organizational capacities to bailout producers on the condition of adopting radical enterprise and sectoral restructuring. This paper suggests a problematic legacy of periodic central state intervention in industrial governance.
"Four Civilizations" and the Evolution of Post-Mao Chinese Socialist Ideology
Particularly since the mid-1990s, Chinese journals, educational guides, ethics and citizenship handbooks, newspaper articles, advertising billboards and websites have carried an infinite array of commentaries and images relating to the CCP’s formulation of what it means to be “civilized”. This article explains the appropriation of “civilization” (wenming) by China’s post-Mao political élite, the persistence of the term, and its evolution into a key reform-era ideological construct. The binary construct of spiritual (jingshen) and material (wuzhi) civilization has developed from a contested political tool deployed by Deng Xiaoping in the early years of opening and reform to an established ideological doctrine. Jiang Zemin’s presidency saw the addition of “political civilization”, and more recent talk of a “social civilization” suggests the potential for further mutations. “Civilization” (and the body of theory that now surrounds it) has become an important genetic thread used by third and fourth generation technocrats to create an ideological lineage for their distinct political platforms and in doing so to maintain—or be seen to be maintaining—the moral legitimacy of the Party.
State, Gender and Uxorilocal Marriage in Contemporary Rural North China
This paper examines how uxorilocal marriage has evolved in relation to state policies, particularly the birth control policy and the initiation of market reforms. Using both qualitative and quantitative data collected in 30 villages in Hebei in 2005, I argue that uxorilocal marriage does not increase with state promotion and the policy-induced increase in the number of daughter-only families. The analysis shows that daughter-only families now have expanded possibilities, with uxorilocal marriage being only one option among many. Also, daughters as well as sons are increasingly able to participate in marriage negotiations; they make active marriage decisions in accordance with family circumstances; and while marriage decisions now reflect the desires of the young couples, they do not necessarily neglect the welfare of the elderly. Further, uxorilocal marriages, within the context of predominant virilocal and neolocal marriage patterns, take on modified forms. One such revised form is a virilocal wedding with uxorilocal residence. The evident flexibility of this family institution makes marriage forms diversified, complex, and constantly changing over time.
Kristen E. Looney
Village Gazetteers: A New Source in the China Field
Since the early 1990s an increasing number of villages in China have published local histories known as cunzhi. While village gazetteers can be seen as an extension of the centuries-old difangzhi tradition, unlike other gazetteers, the state neither requires nor formally regulates gazetteer publication at the village level. This article discusses the compilation process and content of village gazetteers with special attention given to politics in the Maoist period. Based on an examination of nearly 140 village gazetteers, the article also discusses how village gazetteers may assist scholars interested in conducting grassroots-level research on post-1949 China.