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China Scholarship Digest #19

China Scholarship Digest is a monthly list of new China-related academic research.

Articles published in January 2023

69 journals scanned

97 articles from 27 journals

Chinese Studies

Journal of Contemporary China

"The authors...find that the top 1% income share roughly equals that of the bottom 50%. The personal wealth share going to the top 1% exceeds by 5 times the wealth going to the bottom 50%. Failures in redistributive policies have primarily caused these growing income and wealth gaps. Sectoral and national development policies favoring the real estate industry at the expense of the manufacturing industry have also resulted in large-scale wealth shifts, with Chinese households holding increasing housing assets and residential mortgages. This article shows that Piketty’s patrimonial capitalism not only applies to capitalist countries but also extends to China’s socialist market economy."
"Patriotic campaigns and mass mobilization draw on existing xenophobic attitudes of the public, reinforcing the ‘us vs. them’ dualism between China and ‘the West’. However, patriotic campaigns are not always top-down, state-led, nor are they always primarily driven by political ideology. Patriotic content appeals to a growing nationalist audience who consumes a mixed feeling of perceived victimization at the hand of foreign aggression and the pride arising from being a Chinese citizen. This paper argues that the profitability of patriotic content circulating on social media exacerbated the tension between market-driven grassroots patriotism and state-led patriotic campaigns. The tension grows out of, and is manifested in, the online popular debate around economically driven, grassroots ‘patriotic’ content that can challenge the state state-led patriotic rhetoric. While the state sometimes strategically co-opts some patriotic contents into its own patriotic narratives, it also delegitimises other undesired ones"
"This study revisits the question of whether China's economic development has brought democratic changes within the country or not. While the modernization theory suggests that economic development should lead to democratization, scholars claim that China has not made democratic progress despite its economic growth. By comparing these two competing perspectives and examining the evidence behind each assessment, I argue that there has been a certain degree of democratic progress in China, in terms of increasing social aspirations for a more open and free society among the Chinese people. I explain why and how scholars reach different conclusions about democratic progress in China, and emphasize the importance of understanding discrepancies between (1) the lack of change in the state’s system, (2) oscillation between liberal and illiberal policies, and (3) progressive changes in society...It also discusses how Chinese people's local understanding of democracy affects the assessment of modernization theory's applicability in explaining China's case."

China Quarterly

"Many studies put forward the argument that local policy experimentation, a key feature of China's policy process in the Hu Jintao era, has been paralysed by Xi Jinping's (re)centralization of political power – otherwise known as “top-level design.” This narrative suggests that local policymakers have become increasingly risk-averse owing to the anti-corruption campaign and are therefore unwilling to experiment. This article, however, argues that local governments are still expected to innovate with new policy solutions and now will be punished if they do not...the authors highlight new features developing within current experimental policy cycles. Local cadres now have no choice but to experiment as the political risk of shirking the direct command to experiment may be higher than the inherent risk of experimentation itself."
"How can China develop so quickly and yet maintain stability? Most scholars pinpoint the efforts of China's local government leaders as a primary factor. Regarding what motivates these leaders, however, scholars display wide disagreement. The widely accepted “promotion tournament” hypothesis stresses competition among local leaders as the driving force, but empirical test results vary considerably and create controversy. We argue that tests of promotion competition should target leadership behaviour rather than institutional inducements; the latter are, at best, a necessary condition of the former...Our test results show, however, that competition for promotion has no significant impact on local leaders’ behaviour, thereby indicating that the promotion tournament hypothesis cannot be the primary explanation for China's economic achievements and regime resilience. In so doing, our study illuminates the oversimplified assumptions behind a prevailing proposition in Chinese politics and offers empirically informed insights into the tensions between political institutions and leadership behaviour.

Twentieth-Century China

"This article investigates the workings of the anti-US propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the marginalization of dissent in the public realm of China during the Korean War. Through an examination of the actions and reactions of both propagandists and people at the grassroots, this study demonstrates that China's eruption of patriotism and anti-Americanism during the war was far from spontaneous or natural but rather resulted from the interplay between the CCP's propaganda activities and people's reception of the propaganda. I argue that the CCP strategically appropriated war memories and coordinated public articulation and collective sharing of war suffering and of atrocities perpetrated by Japan and by the United States, allowing the CCP to legitimize the promotion of hatred against the United States and the labeling of dissenting voices as connected to China's deadly enemies, the United States and the Nationalists."
"This article addresses two issues germane to the scholarly quest for Hui identity in the modern era. First, it adds to recent historiography on the Hui by constructing an account of the amalgamation of this corporate identity over the twentieth century. I argue that this conglomeration may only be maintained by overlooking the divergence between the territorially compact Hui communities in Northwest China and the deterritorialized Muslim minority members in China's eastern provinces. This article also cites the continued circulation of the Perso-Arabic xiao'erjin script as evidence for the distinctive northwestern Hui identity. I argue that decentering the eastern provinces and their Chinese language print culture results in a new typology of the Hui, one in which the state-defined negative attribute of "three lacks"—common script, common territory, common economic life—may define the widely dispersed eastern Hui but does not describe the Hui in the northwestern heartland.

Asian Studies

Journal of Contemporary Asia

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