Politics in China: An Introduction, Second Edition

Politics in China: An Introduction, Second Edition

William A. Joseph

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 0199339422

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


On October 1, 2009, the People's Republic of China (PRC) celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding. And what an eventful and tumultuous six decades it had been. During that time, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), China was transformed from one of the world's poorest countries into the world's fastest growing major economy, and from a weak state barely able to govern or protect its own territory to a rising power that is challenging the United States for global influence.

Over those same years, the PRC also experienced the most deadly famine in human history, caused largely by the actions and inactions of its political leaders. Not long after, there was a collapse of government authority that pushed the country to the brink of (and in some places actually into) civil war and anarchy.

Today, China is, for the most part, peaceful, prospering, and proud. This is the China that was on display for the world to see during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The CCP maintains a firm grip on power through a combination of popular support largely based on its recent record of promoting rapid economic growth and harsh repression of political opposition. Yet, the party and country face serious challenges on many fronts, including a slowing economy, environmental desecration, pervasive corruption, extreme inequalities, and a rising tide of social protest.

Politics in China is an authoritative introduction to how the world's most populous nation and rapidly rising global power is governed today. Written by leading China scholars, the book's chapters offers accessible overviews of major periods in China's modern political history from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, key topics in contemporary Chinese politics, and developments in four important areas located on China's geographic periphery: Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

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How does society respond to state demands or press its own demands on the state? Under what conditions is the state regarded as legitimate by various groups under its authority, and under what conditions is that legitimacy challenged or rejected? What forms of resistance to state power do social groups take? These have been, and remain, big questions in the study of Chinese politics. In fact, they are becoming increasingly crucial as Chinese society becomes more complex through the processes of

destroying the iron house.6 During the New Culture Movement, the old verities, which formed the iron house, slowly began to collapse. Slogans like “Down with Confucius and sons” filled the press and echoed in street demonstrations. The journal, New Youth, which began to be published in 1915, offered a forum for students to discuss issues and called on youths to take charge of their lives and world. A language revolution was part of this New Culture Movement. Written literary Chinese (wenyan), a

cities and much of the best cropland, had fallen to the Japanese army. The Japanese invasion was marked by rampant and gratuitous atrocities to terrorize the population. The most infamous of these was the “Rape of Nanjing” in late 1937, during which the Chinese have estimated that two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand were killed and tens of thousands raped. In several provinces of China, the Japanese military also used chemical warfare (poison gas) and biological warfare (spreading

generally pragmatic approach in dealing with local situations. The most important element of the CCP’s mass mobilization strategy was class struggle, used in both base areas and guerrilla zones under their control. During the war against Japan, class struggle was the vehicle to reduce rents, taxes, and interest, and carry out land reform. The party sent work teams to villages to mobilize peasant associations to challenge village elites. It is clear that the “rise of peasant associations

particularly argued that as a CCP leader in the so-called white areas under Kuomintang control, Liu did not deserve his high position, while he, Gao, represented the red “base areas.” Mao’s attitudes and motives were opaque, and other leaders did not know how to respond. After some hesitation, Chen and Deng approached Mao and reported on Gao’s lobbying. Mao’s reaction was to lure Gao into taking further steps in his plotting against Liu and Zhou, turn on him for disrupting party unity, and

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