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Issue 67 (January 2012)
“Left Behind”: Migration, Householding and Women’s Well-Being in Rural Ningxia
The starting point for this paper is a new body of research that has emerged in China since the mid-2000s, expressing concern about the impact of rural migration on the well-being of the so-called “left-behind” population, specifically, “left-behind women” (liushou funü 留守妇女). This literature is important because, although the experiences of migrants and the impact of rural migration on national development have been receiving attention for the last 20 years, the new studies represent the first sustained effort on the part of Chinese scholars to understand the social consequences of migration for rural communities of origin, and the situation of those who remain in the countryside. In this paper, I argue, however, that these studies are limited by a lack of appreciation of the embeddedness of both migration patterns and left-behind people’s responses to them in rural “householding”, that is, the strategies and processes through which rural households create and reproduce themselves. Drawing on fieldwork conducted recently with Han women in rural Ningxia, I suggest that the concept of “householding” provides a more fruitful analytical framework for understanding the situation of left-behind women than do approaches adopted heretofore.
Wanlong Lin and Christine Wong
Are Beijing’s Equalization Policies Reaching the Poor? An Analysis of Direct Subsidies under the “Three Rurals” (Sannong)
Over the past decade, China has gradually introduced a new development paradigm, with new policies and new approaches under which the government channels resources to the rural sector, and targets raising incomes and improving services and living conditions. This paper focuses on one of the key innovative approaches, that of providing direct subsidies to farmers, to assess the efficacy of these policies. Especially over the past few years, the scale and coverage of these subsidies have grown dramatically, and the benefits have reached all farmers. Based on an analysis of the design of the current subsidy mechanisms and the results of an empirical study, however, this paper demonstrates that a farm household in a fiscally wealthy region, with a high income or strong social resources, receives more subsidies. The findings suggest that, to narrow regional income gaps, the programs should be more sharply targeted to regions with weak fiscal capacities. Furthermore, improving equity in the distribution of subsidies will require better monitoring and control over the use of funds, and wider public participation and access to information. These lessons can be broadly applied to the whole of the Harmonious Society programs.
Mobility and Agency: Private Sector Development in Rural Central China
A major stated goal of China’s 12th Five Year Plan (2011–15) is “inclusive growth” (baorongxing zengzhang 包容性增长), or growth which benefits all economic strata and regions. This article examines some potential challenges to achieving “inclusive growth” in China’s interior regions. Case study analysis of remote, rural counties in central China’s Anhui Province reveals the importance of human resource mobility and local agency in supporting private sector growth. Extensive fieldwork in rural Anhui shows that localities which developed vigorous private sectors without the large FDI inflows available in coastal regions relied on human capital flows—often triggered by historical contingencies—to develop a private industry from the bottom up. Local governments and enterprises which capitalized on these inflows and established suitable institutions for the promotion and regulation of emergent industries created increasing returns for a local niche private sector. Ultimately, the accumulation of human and social capital in this process allowed some communities to create vibrant private sectors, while other communities with similar economic and social features stagnated. However, even these “successful” de novo enterprise sectors benefited local citizens unequally. Compared with each other, these “success” cases differ sharply in their inclusiveness.
Gunter Schubert and Anna L. Ahlers
County and Township Cadres as a Strategic Group: “Building a New Socialist Countryside” in Three Provinces
County and township cadres as strategic actors in local policy implementation have only recently become a topic of systematic study for China scholars. These cadres engage in strategic agency to maintain political autonomy from upper government and Party levels and from the populace, and their overarching interests and specific position in the political hierarchy bind them together. By drawing on a critical reading of the literature and on extensive fieldwork data gathered in three counties of different provinces about the implementation of the “Building a New Socialist Countryside” macro-policy officially launched by Beijing in 2006, we find that local policy implementation can create win–win situations for all actors concerned: the central state, county and township cadres and the local populace. This may have a positive impact on regime legitimacy and system stability, and China scholars would be well advised to have a closer look at the potential of effective policy implementation in China’s local state to understand this dynamic.
Feng Chen and Xin Xu
“Active Judiciary”: Judicial Dismantling of Workers’ Collective Action in China
This study examines the role of Chinese local courts in and their approach to the settlement of collective labor disputes, based on the fieldwork in Dongguan. It argues that what the courts have done is characterized by their dual attempts at, on the one hand, proactively pursuing fair and legally justifiable results for individual workers, and containing workers’ collective action, on the other. How the courts cope with collective labor disputes reflects their effort to balance judicial professionalism and the need to serve the state’s political goal of maintaining social stability. Through analyzing extrajudicial, quasi- and formal judicial processes of conflict resolution, this paper shows that the courts’ sympathy with workers’ legal rights is often entwined with or overshadowed by their political concern over workers’ potential for collective action. A particular focus is on the courts’ attempt to defuse and prevent labor mobilization through the tactic of individualizing collective disputes cases. The paper also demonstrates that the nature and forms of workers’ collective protests, that is, spontaneous and unorganized, allow the courts considerable room for maneuver and permits them to exercise a divide-and-rule strategy among workers, to dissolve collective disputes.
Brian James DeMare
Casting (Off) Their Stinking Airs: Chinese Intellectuals and Land Reform, 1946–52
China’s mid-century land reform campaigns have typically been viewed as a clash between peasants and landlords. This article seeks to re-examine land reform by shifting focus to the relationship between peasants and intellectuals during the campaigns. This shift highlights the critical role played by China’s educated élite as members of land reform work teams, and demonstrates how land reform became a crucial moment in the construction of the social category of “intellectual”. The intellectuals who joined land reform work teams were diverse, both in age and range of professions. Motivated by the desire to transform themselves through revolutionary practice, many educated work team members would write about their experiences in land reform to argue for their inclusion in the revolutionary ranks of the new PRC state. However, by accepting disparaging conceptions about “intellectuals” in their writings, they instead cemented the negative construction of this social category, which would have far-reaching consequences over the second half of the 20th century.
“Anything at Variance With It Must Be Revised Accordingly”: Rewriting Modern Chinese Literature During the 1950s
An examination of censorship during the first decade after the founding of the People’s Republic of China shows how texts written by eminent modern authors were modified to conform to the Chinese Communist Party’s directives on content, ideology, language and literary style. Focusing on Ba Jin’s (巴金) Family (Jia 家), this article sheds light on the political control of literature during the Maoist period and demonstrates how literary texts were revised and rewritten to order. These works are being reprinted in China with neither ordinary readers nor most literary scholars being aware of the situation.
Jonathan Sullivan and Eliyahu Sapir
Nasty or Nice? Explaining Positive and Negative Campaign Behavior in Taiwan
This article examines the campaign behavior of Taiwanese election candidates with a view to what it reveals about the health of Taiwan’s democracy. The objective of the article is to explain the strategies behind candidates’ decision-making. Why and under what conditions do candidates decide to attack their opponents or promote themselves? Why do candidates choose ideological themes as the focus of their campaign, or decide to go after their opponents’ personality? Using general theoretical propositions about campaign behavior, we test our explanatory models empirically on a sample of over 400 unique TV and newspaper advertisements from four presidential and three Taipei mayoral elections. Contrary to impressions that negative and unseemly campaign behavior is inherent in the political culture, or a symbol of the immaturity of Taiwan’s democracy, our findings demonstrate that Taiwanese election candidates act in ways that are consistent with their counterparts in other democracies. However, findings also suggest that negative strategic appeals are a problematic feature of Taiwanese campaigns.