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China Perspectives 2018/1-2

SPECIAL FEATURE

New Approaches to the Political Regime Under Xi Jinping

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China Perspectives 2018/1-2

Special Feature

Editorial – A Challenge to the Dominant Portrait of Xi Jinping Page 3

Dorothy J. Solinger

Historical Legacies and Leaders’ Worldviews: Communist Party History and Xi’s Learned (and Unlearned) Lessons Page 7

Joseph Torigian

ABSTRACT: Political scientists have found that early life experiences powerfully affect future leaders. Drawing on a variety of sources, this article investigates the formative role of Xi Jinping’s youth during a tumultuous time period in Chinese history. Xi’s life before and during the Cultural Revolution help explain his toughness, idealism, pragmatism, and caution. However, the evidence on how Xi’s childhood and young adulthood shaped his view on how to best handle political contradictions is ambiguous.
KEYWORDS: Leadership, Xi Jinping, Cultural Revolution, Red Guards, Sent-down Youth.

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Dictator’s Shadow: Chinese Elite Politics Under Xi Jinping Page 17

Dimitar D. Gueorguiev

ABSTRACT: President Xi Jinping is arguably the most powerful Chinese leader since Chairman Mao. Recent constitutional revisions and a midterm leadership reshuffle has only substantiated the fear that Xi, like Mao, has no intention of handing over power to a future successor. Does Xi’s rise signal an end to collective leadership and does a stronger president translate into a weaker party? In this article, I review the methods by which Xi has come to consolidate power as well as the implications for Chinese elite politics in the future. Drawing insights from the comparative literature, I question the zero-sum relationship between executive and institutional strength. Although Xi has certainly amassed unprecedented personal power, it has not necessarily come at the expense of the Party. Instead, the dangers of Xi Jinping’s power grab are more likely to result from a chilling effect on dissenting opinions and thinning out of the leadership pipeline, each of which is likely to undermine governing capacity over the medium to long-term.
KEYWORDS: China, Authoritarian Regimes, Elite Politics, Power Sharing, Collective Leadership, Institutions, Succession.

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Firm Control: Governing the State-owned Economy Under Xi Jinping Page 27

Wendy Leutert

ABSTRACT: How has the Xi Jinping administration recentralised authority over China’s politics and economy? Studies of Xi’s rule often suggest that his “core leader” status, revolutionary heritage, and informal network of loyalists underpin this consolidation of central control. In contrast, this article focuses on the state sector to highlight how the Xi administration’s recentralisation of authority is grounded in existing governance mechanisms and techniques: central leading small groups, the cadre management system, Party committees, and campaigns. Using policy documents and an original dataset on central state-owned enterprise leaders, I provide evidence that the Xi administration has leveraged each of these four methods to reclaim central authority relative to the preceding Hu Jintao administration. These findings contribute to scholarship on adaptive authoritarian governance and economic reform in China by underscoring that administrations can use existing instruments of central control in divergent ways.
KEYWORDS: China, Chinese Communist Party, State-owned Enterprises, Economic Reform, Adaptive Authoritarian Governance, Xi Jinping, Hu Jintao.

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New Wine in Old Bottles: Sinicisation and State Regulation of Religion in China Page 37

Kuei-min Chang

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses Xi Jinping’s policy of religious sinicisation (zhongguohua 中国化) and the subsequent revision of the Regulations on Religious Affairs. I argue that Xi’s fear of foreign influence has driven the direction of recent changes in religious policy in favour of indigenous or indigenised religions. I show that the effort to sinicise religions and the consequent strengthening of the existing regulatory framework risks exacerbating the challenges that the Xi regime seeks to confront in the first place.
KEYWORDS: Sinicisation, zhongguohua, Regulations on Religious Affairs, State-religion Relations, Selective Religious Toleration, United Front, China, Xi Jinping.

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Articles

Tasting a Good Life: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of Happiness in the Documentary A Bite of China 2 (2014) Page 45

Rui Kunze

ABSTRACT: This essay mainly examines the documentary A Bite of China 2 (2014), which presents culinary culture as everyday practices displaying an “authentic” Chinese way of perceiving and pursuing happiness. This is a media artefact produced by CCTV, a cultural institution of postsocialist China, whose duty of promoting state ideology, drive for profit, and the various cultural positionings of its employees negotiated with each other in shaping this audio-visual text characterised by fissures and incoherence. In this text, narratives and counter-narratives of happiness interweave. Their reception is further complicated by an audience made up of various interpretive communities with different social and cultural backgrounds as well as cultural competence. Both the text and its reception reveal that the notion of happiness is complex and contested in such a drastically changing country as China.
KEYWORDS: Happiness, A Bite of China, CCTV, Desire, Neoliberal Ethos, Interpretive Communities.

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Between Poverty and Normative Pressure: The Quality of Life of Never Married Men in Rural Shaanxi Page 55

Isabelle AttanéXueyan Yang

ABSTRACT: This article is based on data from a study undertaken in 2014-2015 in rural southern Shaanxi to analyse the relationship between bachelors who have not chosen to be single and their satisfaction with life. Its aims are twofold: firstly, to explain the differences in the quality of life between married and single men by means of conventional variables (socio-economic profile, state of health, intensity of social relations); secondly, to explore quality of life factors associated with relations these men have with women and which, to our knowledge, have never hitherto been taken into account in analyses of inequalities in life satisfaction in China. In particular, we attempt to see the extent to which inability to contract a marriage is likely to affect quality of life, especially through the social injunction to marry and the social stigmatisation attached to bachelorhood, while at the same time exploring how quality of life varies in relation to the frequency of intimate relations with partners in a context where sex remains socially associated with marriage. In this way, we bring to light individual and contextual features that can be considered to contribute to the growth of inequality in life satisfaction resulting from socio-economic circumstances.
KEYWORDS: Rural China, Quality of Life, Bachelors, Marriage, Gender Imbalance, Sexuality.

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Prostitution and Female Trafficking in China: Between Phenomena and Discourse Page 65

Bonny Ling

ABSTRACT: Prostitution is illegal in China and is frequently the target of law enforcement crackdowns. In recent years, the country’s growing emphasis on combating human trafficking has also increased the profile of these anti-prostitution campaigns. This is seen in China’s current anti-trafficking roadmap, which identifies the nationwide eradication of prostitution as an important prong of the country’s anti-trafficking campaign. The two phenomena of prostitution and trafficking in women, or female trafficking, are nevertheless not equivalent. This article argues that, in the contemporary discourse on prostitution and female trafficking in China, the two issues are often conflated. The two terms are used interchangeably in a way that has affected the conceptualisation of female trafficking as a phenomenon that is largely synonymous with prostitution. This problem is exacerbated by the social stigma attached to women who are engaged in prostitution, regardless of the circumstances of their entry. Another aspect of this discourse is its dissociation from historical context, despite the fact that neither prostitution nor the trafficking in Chinese women for the exploitation of prostitution are newly arrived challenges for the present generation. The article therefore argues that discussions on prostitution and female trafficking in China would benefit from a conceptually clear framework that examines these challenges as more than a singular purpose of exploitation or a challenge of modernity.
KEYWORDS: China, Human Trafficking, Female Trafficking, Trafficking in Women, Anti-Trafficking, Women, Prostitution, Sex Trade.

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Trapped in Migration: Migratory Careers and Entrepreneurial Creativity of Chinese Migrant Women in Taiwan Page 75

Beatrice Zani

ABSTRACT: How do Chinese migrant women fight against economic and social disqualification to find their place in Taiwanese cities and in the Taiwanese labour market, after a double migratory ordeal firstly within China and then from China to Taiwan, where they face situations of double-discrimination? This empirical study of three urban spaces and one rural village in Taiwan shows the capacity of those women to face domination by developing creative strategies of survival and resistance. The plurality of the economic activities women can produce proves the emergence of transnational economic spaces between the Chinese society of departure and the Taiwanese society of arrival that contribute to bottom-up globalisation.
KEYWORDS: Bottom-up Globalisation, Double-discrimination, Gender, Labour and Marriage Migration, China and Taiwan, Entrepreneurship, Solidarity, Transnationalism, WeChat.

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Can a Sustainable Urban Development Model be Exported? Construction of the “Exemplary” Tianjin Eco-city Page 87

Yinghao LiCéline BonhommeJosé-Frédéric Deroubaix

ABSTRACT: In the search for more sustainable models for Chinese cities, the concept of “eco-city” has been advanced and widely discussed as capable of providing solutions for environmental, ecological, and socio-economic problems. This article questions the specificities of the concept against lessons drawn from the experiences of eco- and sustainable quarters being implemented in France and other places in Europe. The model for a Chinese eco-city is considered in the light of our study of the Tianjin eco-city, which is a Sino-Singaporean project half-way towards its intended completion in 2020. Our study was conducted on the spot within this eco-city, and it enables us to make a close examination of a number of its specific aspects and to raise questions, in a manner not yet fully researched in this area, as to how widely such an urban model might be diffused. Its implementation of a system of performance indicators, and its introduction of a structure of governance to support environmental protection, represent promising avenues for a paradigm change in Chinese urban planning. On the other hand, the bias in favour of technological solutions and the lack of concern with the residents’ life styles are a matter for debate over the pertinence and sustainability of such a model for urban development.
KEYWORDS: Sustainable Development, Chinese Urban Planning, Indicator, Governance, Tianjin Eco-city.

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Current Affairs

“Xi Jinping Thought”: Realisation of the Chinese Dream of National Rejuvenation? Page 99

John GarrickYan Chang Bennett

“你有freestyle吗?” (Do you freestyle?) The Roots of Censorship in Chinese Hip-hop Page 107

Nathanel Amar

Book Reviews

Katy N. Lam, Chinese State-Owned Enterprises in West Africa: Triple-embedded Globalization. Abderrezak Adel, Thierry Pairault, and Fatiha Talahite (eds.), La Chine en Algérie. Approches socio-économiques (China in Algeria: Socio-economic approaches). Page 115

Jean-Pierre Cabestan

Yukon Huang, Cracking the China Conundrum: Why Conventional Economic Wisdom Is Wrong Page 116

Dmitriy Plekhanov

Jean-François Huchet, La crise environnementale en Chine. Evolutions et limites des politiques publiques (Environmental crisis in China: Evolutions and limits of public policies) Page 118

Sandra Poncet

Mary Ann O’Donnell, Winnie Wong, and Jonathan Bach (eds.), Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City Page 119

June Wang

Wang Simeng, Illusions et souffrances: Les migrants chinois à Paris (Illusions and suffering: Chinese migrants in Paris) Page 120

Émilie Tran

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