Presentation of China Perspectives Nº2012/3 Locating Civil Society: Communities defending basic liberties


 Moot Court, The Chinese University of Hong Kong Graduate Law Centre, 2/F, Bank of America Tower, 12 Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong


Special issue of China Perspectives, guest edited by Eva Pils

Speakers: Kin-man Chan (The Chinese University of Hong Kong),Eva Pils (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Teng Biao (The Chinese University of Hong Kong & China University of Politics and Law) and Fengshi Wu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Reservation & Contact: Alfred Aroquiame / tel: 2876 6910


Kin-man Chan is Director of the Centre for Civil Society Studies and Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Eva Pils is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Rights and Justice, Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Non-resident Senior Research Fellow, U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University School of Law.

Teng Biao is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Rights and Justice, Faculty of Law of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a Lecturer at China University of Political Science and Law and is the Director of China Against Death Penalty, Beijing.

Fengshi Wu is Associate Director of the Centre for Civil Society Studies, and Assistant Professor at the Department of Government and Public Administration of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Liberal Communities
Communities of journalists, human rights defenders, religious communities, and nongovernmental organisations (NGO) involved in the provision of social services or advocacy are amongst the groups in Chinese civil society that can be most readily expected to defend liberal values and promote human rights. The presence of these communities depends on values directly challenging authoritarianism; and they in turn are especially at risk under illiberal “management” and repression. The recent turn against “civil society” at the level of the Party’s political rhetoric is most obviously directed at these groups, as became evident when at the end of July 2012, a People’s Daily editorial on groups deemed hostile to the Party-State triggered references to them as the “New Five Black Categories” (xin hei wu lei). How does official vilification of Chinese civil society’s liberal communities affect their ability to function? Eva Pils will present some comments in her introductory discussion.

The Evolving Government-NGO Relations
One particular area of concern is the management of the growing number of NGOs in China, analyzed in the contribution that will be presented by its authors Kin-man Chan and Fengshi Wu. Despite recent policy changes, governmental monitoring and control of grassroots NGOs remain pervasive and effective to a large extent in China. The authors provide a categorisation of NGOs from a perspective of state control, which they explain using the conceptual frameworks of corporatism and fragmented authoritarianism. Chan and Wu argue that “graduated” and categorised control (fenlei guanzhi) explains not only how NGOs are controlled but also the differentiated strategies used to react to control.

The Rights Defence Movement Online and Offline
Teng Biao will present his analysis of individual cases of ‘rights defence’ published in this Special Issue illustrating how, compelled by the authoritarian and corporatist institutional design and political control of the formal legal institutions, lawyers and other rights defenders come to make intensive use of traditional and ‘new’ (social) media in individual case advocacy. Technological progress has benefited rights defenders by facilitating their communication and ability to pressurize the authorities through online appeals. Teng argues that these new technologies allow for ‘organizing without organization, enabling people to break up ‘many of the traditional dichotomies’: between providers and recipients of information, official and private media, domestic and foreign media, presence and absence, collective and individual spheres, elite and grass-roots, and even the political and the non-political.


This seminar will be held in English.
Sebastian Veg, Director of the CEFC, will chair the session.
Snacks and drinks will be served after the seminar.
Seats are limited. Please confirm your attendance.














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