East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

April 23, 2019
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May 1| Yan Xu, “Experimenting with Entrepreneurship: Peripheral State Actors,Transnational Communities and the Rise of Venture Capital-Backed Startups in China” 

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

 

 Experimenting with Entrepreneurship:

Peripheral State Actors,Transnational Communities and the Rise of Venture Capital-Backed Startups in China” 

Yan Xu

University of Chicago, Political Science

 

May 1, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Light lunch will be provided

Abstract

Tech entrepreneurship and state capitalism are usually seen as incompatible, partly because they are based on different financial institutions. But in China, tech startups backed by venture capital (VC) are thriving in a state capitalist economy, in spite of antecedent institutions that were hostile to entrepreneurship and VC and the state’s persistent interest in the developmental state model of favoring large incumbent firms. This paper shows how state actors that are relatively peripheral in China’s industrial and financial policymaking introduced experimentation that provided space for entrepreneurship and VC. These policy experiments were originally limited in scope and achieved mixed outcomes: while tech entrepreneurship thrived, state-run VC firms mostly failed. But vibrant tech entrepreneurship attracted foreign and returnee venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, who brought in practices from Silicon Valley and elsewhere, utilized foreign capabilities and institutions to overcome local obstacles and bred some of China’s most successful startups. These developments eventually led to policy changes and reorientation—including the opening of the domestic stock market to entrepreneurial firms and the massive amount of state capital directed to VC—that have significantly reshaped the institutional environment for VC and entrepreneurship. This narrative demonstrates how public initiatives can foster private risk-taking and suggests that capitalism in China emerged not merely from below but through a multi-faceted process.

  

 

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

April 16, 2019
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Fei Xiaotong Roundtable – Human Nature and Habits – Thursday, May 2, 2019

“Human Nature and Habits” Roundtable

Academic Exchange with Fei Xiaotong (Fei Hsiao-Tung)’s Followers

 

THURSDAY MAY 2, 2019 – 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm

1st Floor Lecture Hall 142, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago IL 60637

The renowned Chinese sociologist and anthropologist Fei Xiaotong (Hsiao-Tung, 1910-2005)’s early works, Peasant Life in China (1939), From the Soil (1947/1993), Earthbound China (1945) and China’s Gentry (1945), are widely known at home and abroad. However, his many later works failed to be systematically introduced to the English-speaking world. For decades, Professor Fei’s disciples (PhD students or Postdoctoral researchers) have built on different aspects of his academic legacy and developed their own research expertise.

This roundtable will feature Professor Fei Xiaotong’s disciples and will provide an opportunity for them to introduce their own research, as well as seek comments and advice on, “Humanity and Habits,” a joint research project undertaken by the Institute of Art Anthropology of China Academy of Arts and the Hengyuanxiang Group launched in 2018. With the subject of this research project having been of great interest to Professor Fei, this roundtable will explore questions of where people’s habits and cultures come from, thereby understanding the future development of human civilization through the relationship between human beings and culture.

Although Professor Fei pioneered the methods of local people doing fieldwork in their own home environments, he made a large number of observations and travel notes during his studies and academic visits in the United Kingdom and the United States, which influenced his ideas about “cultural self-consciousness” in his later years in the context of globalization. His “sixteen characters” have methodological implications for promoting understanding and respecting the cultures and traditions of other countries on the basis of knowing one’s own culture.  Professor Fei also valued the method of comparing “self” with “other”, so the members of the research team have studied “humanity and habits” in China, Japan, India, Middle East, Europe and the United States. By following in Fei Xiaotong’s footsteps on visits to the United States and United Kingdom for academic exchanges between Chinese and non-Chinese scholars, this delegation hopes to deepen and widen existing research and participate in the construction of human knowledge on this and a wider range of topics.

Event sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies 

and the Council on Advanced Studies – East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

 

Lunch will be provided to all guests

DELEGATION MEMBERS

Mr. Liu Qirui, President, Hengyuanxiang Corporation. Co-PI of the project ‘Human nature and habits’. Chairman, Presidium of China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE); Vice-President of China Trademark Association. He is known as the “first person of Chinese brands” and “a master of Chinese business”. In recent years he has been interested in ‘cultural assets’. He has published more than 10 papers, and is author of Brand and Culture (2015), co-author, Research on National Brands and National Soft Power(2014), co-author, Research on National Brand Strategy (2012). He is also Consultant Professor of Fudan University,Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and East China University.

Professor Fang Lili, Director, Institute of the Anthropology of Arts, China Academy of Arts; Director of the Institute of the Anthropology and Sociology of Arts, Southeast University; President, the China Association of the Anthropology of Arts; Co-PI of the project ‘Human nature and habits’. Her publications include Cultural Consciousness and Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2015), The Native Vision of Art Anthropology (2014), Art Anthropology (co-author,2013), Chinese Ceramic History (2 volumes, 2013), Tradition and Change – Fieldwork of New and Old Folk Kiln Industry in Jingdezhen (2000); co-editor and translator,Globalization and Cultural Self-Awareness, by Fei Xiaotong (in English) (2015).
Professor Wang Yanzhong, Director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Executive Director of the Chinese Sociological Association. His publications include Research on the Construction of a Well-off Society in an All-round Way in China (2018), China Social Security Development Report (2019, 2018, 2017, 2014, 2010, 2007, 2004 and 2001), Economic and Social Survey Report of China’s Ethnic Regions (co-editor, 2016, 2015, 2014), Annual Report on the Development of Ethnic in China (co-editor, 2015), Social Security Survey on Income Redistribution Effect in China (co-author, 2013), Research on China Labor Union Security Issues (2004), A Study on Relations between Infrastructure and Manufacturing Development (co-author, 2002), WTO and SME Development Strategy (2000).

Professor Liu Neng, Deputy Head of the Department of Sociology, Peking University. History publications include Village Administration in the Perspective of Hierarchy and Social Networks: A Case Study of Beizhen (North Twon) (2008). Public Welfare Project Evaluation: Teacher Training Programme in Hope-Project and Overall Performance Evaluation on Lucent Class (2004). Edited work: The Power of Joining Hands: Open Bidding Project Evaluation on China Red Cross Foundation 5.12 Disaster Relief (2012), China Minsheng (People’s Livelihood) Development Report (2012). Translator and publisher, Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, eds. Aldon D.Morris and Carol McClurg Mueller (2002).
Professor Zhao Xudong, Director of the Institute of Anthropology, Renmin University of China. His publications include Anthropology of Cultural Transformation (2018), On the Edge of the Indigenous and Foreign Lands: Self, Culture and the Other in Anthropological Researches (2011), Cultural Expression: Anthropological Vision (2009). Co-editor: WeChat Ethnography: Knowledge Production and Cultural Practice from the Media Age (2017), editor, Fei Xiaotong and the Study of Rural Society (2010), co-translator, Sociology (7th Edition), by Anthony Giddens et al., published in Chinese in 2015; Sociology Matters, by Richard T. Schaefer, published in Chinese in 2011; Popular Religion in China: The Imperial Metaphor, by Stephan Feuchtwang, published in Chinese in 2009.

Professor Ding Yuanzhu, Deputy Director of the Department of Social and Ecological Civilization, National Institute of Administration. His publications include Volunteer Service Index System Research (co-author, 2018), The Logic of Society (2017),  Basic Theory and Method of Community (2009), Society Building: Strategic Thinking and Basic Countermeasures (2008), The Century Seeking for a Good Society (2007), Management of Social Development (2006), Reconstruction of China’s Social Safety Net (2001), China 2010: Risk and Avoidance (co-author, 2005), Research on Volunteer Activities: Types, Evaluation and Management (co-author, 2001), Fei Xiaotong’s Academic History and Works Summary (co-author 1996). 
Professor Xu Ping, Culture and History Department, Central Party School. Vice-President of Chinese Society of World Ethno-National Studies. His publications include A Survey of Cultural Identity and National Identity in China’s Ethnic Autonomous Regions (co-author, 2018), Western Development and Stability and Development of Tibetan Farming and Pastoral Areas (co-author, 2012), Fei Xiaotong’s Biography (co-author, 2009), Cultural Adaptation and Change(2006), Tibetan Secrets – Going to the West of China (2001), Living in the Himalayas (1997), Yi Village Society (1993). 
Mr. Zhang Zhe, Deputy Secretary-General, Centre of Social Survey, Advisory Office, State Council, People’s Republican of China; The only grandson of Professor Fei Xiaotong (Fei Hsiao-Tung).

 
Professor Xiangqun Chang, Honorary Professor of University College London; President of Global China Institute, UK. She has published nearly 100 Chinese and English items, nearly three million words, includingOn Marxist Sociology (580,000 words; 2018; 460,000 words, 1992), Guanxi or Li shang wanglai? — Reciprocity, Social Support Networks, & Social Creativity in a Chinese Village (simplified Chinese version, 540,000 words, 2009; English and traditional Chinese versions, 2010); editor, Society Building — A China Model of Social Development (English edition, 2014; English new edition, Chinese new editions, 2014-18); co-editor, Fei Xiaotong Studies (three volumes, in English and Chinese with Feuchtwang et al., 2015-18).

April 5, 2019
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April 10 | William Hurst, “Ruling Before the Law: the Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia”

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

 

“Ruling Before the Law: the Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia” 

William Hurst

Associate Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University

 

April 10, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Light lunch will be provided

 

 

 

 

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

 

April 1, 2019
by baikjongyoon
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Yeonju Lee | April 3, “Understanding the Causes of Inequality Perceptions”

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

 

“Understanding the Causes of Inequality Perceptions” 

Yeonju Lee

Harvard University, Postdoctoral Fellow

 

April 3, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Light lunch will be provided

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that perceptions of inequality have a meaningful effect on people’s political preferences such as support for redistribution. Although it is important to understand where these perceptions come from, we know little about the origins of individual inequality perceptions, especially across different countries. When and how do people perceive income inequality at the individual level? Given similar levels of actual income inequality, why do countries have varying levels of perceived inequality? This paper attempts to answer these questions in two parts: first, the paper tests the effect of potential short-term triggers of perceived inequality – factual information about inequality, a sense of injustice, visibility of inequality, media, and various demographic characteristics – using original survey and experiments conducted in Japan and Korea. I find that a sense of injustice is the strongest predictor of perceived inequality while factual information about inequality and visibility of inequality do not have any meaningful effect. Media has mixed impacts on individual inequality perceptions.  Second, the paper traces historical paths of the two countries to explain the persistence of “collective” inequality perceptions at the country level.

  

 

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

This event is sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

 

February 25, 2019
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March 6 | Yao Lu, “Migration and Political Development in China”

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

 

“Migration and Political Development in China”

 

 

Yao Lu

Columbia University, Sociology Department

 

March 6, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Pizza will be provided

 

 

Abstract

Massive rural-urban migration and growing collective resistance are two profound transformations in China. This study examines how migration shapes collective resistance in sending areas. Drawing on several data sources, I find that migration acts as a vehicle of political diffusion and spurs collective resistance in rural China. But the role of migration differs by the form and scale of collective action and is conditioned by local social institutions. The role of migration is discussed in the context of distinct institutional arrangements in China, which were originally engineered to disenfranchise rural-origin people but which instead have inadvertently politicized migrants and peasants alike.

 

About the Presenter

Yao Lu is Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Her research focuses on how migration intersects with social and political processes in China. Her current work examines how migration affects political development in rural and urban China, how feminization of migration reconfigures gender practices in rural areas, and how migration shapes family dynamics and the well-being of migrant children and left-behind children.

 

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

February 20, 2019
by baikjongyoon
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Feb 27 | Chenli You, “Macroeconomic Stimulus and the Distorting Effects of Political Connections: Evidence from China”

 

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

“Macroeconomic Stimulus and the Distorting Effects of Political Connections: Evidence from China”

 

Chenli You

UIC Economics PhD Candidate

 

Feb 27, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Pizza will be provided

 

Abstract

The global financial crisis of 2008 hit the Chinese economy severely, and in response, China launched its “four trillion-yuan stimulus package” to support the economy. Since China has a mixed economy that is both centrally planned and market-based, and therefore political relations play a significant role in resource allocation, companies with close relationships to central and local government have been likely to benefit more from the stimulus package. This research uses a difference-in-difference analysis of publicly listed companies in China from 2003 to 2012, comparing politically connected and non-politically connected firms before and after 2008. The empirical results suggest that after the adoption of the stimulus package, politically connected firms had about 7.1% higher leverage, 9.3% higher receivables, and 6.6% lower sales compared to firms lacking those political connections, even though the levels of investment, cash stock, and profit among all of these firms were not significantly different. My findings, that politically connected firms received a disproportionate amount of support from the stimulus package through increased leverage but performed worse in liquidity management, suggest that the stimulus package allocated resources inefficiently.

 

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

February 13, 2019
by baikjongyoon
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Feb 20 | Kevin Weng, “Coup-Proofing to Victory: Military Effectiveness and the Puzzle of Nationalist China, 1937-1949”

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

 

“Coup-Proofing to Victory: Military Effectiveness

and the Puzzle of Nationalist China, 1937-1949″

 

 

Kevin Weng

UChicago Political Science PhD Student

Feb 20, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Pizza will be provided

Abstract

Conventional wisdom argues that the militaries of autocratic regimes engaged in coup-proofing are, on average, less effective at fighting conventional wars. However, such theories fail to account for the empirical puzzle of Nationalist China, which managed to sustain a surprisingly effective war effort against Imperial Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War. I argue that – contrary to existing theories which point to coup-proofing and military politicization as the primary determinants of battlefield (in)effectiveness – variations in the military performance of the National Revolutionary Army can be traced back to the Guomindang government’s shifting dependence on either land rents or customs duties & foreign financing. By developing the extractive infrastructure which allowed for an expansion of the land tax, the Guomindang increased the logistical capacities of the Nationalist state, which in turn led to enhanced battlefield effectiveness. In contrast, a re-orientation towards depending on customs collections and American Lend-Lease aid during the later stages of the war led to a more limited logistical network, thereby reducing battlefield effectiveness. To demonstrate my argument’s claims, I rely on historical process-tracing of the National Revolutionary Army’s military campaigns from 1937-1949, while drawing upon archival evidence collected from the Second Historical Archives of China, Academia Historica, The Hoover Archives, & the U.S. National Archives.

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

February 13, 2019
by baikjongyoon
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Feb 6 | Anna L. Ahlers, “China’s ‘Airpocalypse’ and its Political Impact”

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

 

China’s ‘Airpocalypse’ and its Political Impact”

 

Anna Lisa Ahlers

 

Associate Professor in Modern Chinese Society and Politics

Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages

University of Oslo

Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago

Feb 6, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Pizza will be provided

Abstract

For about a decade now air pollution is the most hotly debated environmental problem in Chinese society. The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the huge winter smog events of 2012/13 in Northeastern cities marked a watershed in communication about this problem. Concern about the health effects of heavy air pollution has become a fact of life for Chinese urbanites but did also fuel demands for political solutions. In 2013 the government issued an action plan for air pollution control (which was recently renewed) and declared a high-profile war on environmental pollution a year later, introducing some harsh new measures and sweeping monitoring of their implementation. China’s newfound “authoritarian environmentalism” in fact seems to have yielded significant results already, as even Greenpeace admits, and average annual urban air pollution has been on the decline in recent years. How has this turnaround in Chinese environmental politics, which was largely ineffective for decades, been possible and what are its main features?

 

In my talk, I will draw some preliminary conclusions concerning the political impact of China’s “airpocalypse”, based on almost five years of research in an international and interdisciplinary project team (AIRBORNE, hosted at the University of Oslo – more). I argue that the smog experience turns out to have been a trigger for overall changes in environmental governance in China, especially at the interfaces of political authorities, science, media and the general public. I will present some examples of these – sometimes rather surprising – new governance mechanisms, their background and effects. Last but not least, the apparent return of extreme smog events this winter also calls into question the government’s preferred narrative, and I will outline some of the current questions that warrant further research on this topic.

 

* Subscribe to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

 

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

January 9, 2019
by baikjongyoon
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Jan 16, Taeju Kim, “Japan’s Peace Constitution: the Prospect for Revision from a Historical Perspective”

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

“Japan’s Peace Constitution:

the Prospect for Revision from a Historical Perspective”

 

Taeju Kim

UChicago Department of History

 

Jan 16, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Pizza will be provided

Abstract

Along with heightening international uncertainty due to the rise of China, intensifying economic competition, and surging nationalism in Northeast Asia, Japanese policymakers and the ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have endeavored to revise the Peace Constitution. The constitution established by the U.S. Occupation government after WWII permanently “renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” To many Japanese conservatives, this foreign-imposed constitution embodied their nation’s shameful defeat and lost sovereignty. Accordingly, revising the constitution represented a way to recover national pride and honor and become an independent, autonomous country with its own armed forces. These conservatives believed that such an action would allow Japan to strengthen its relationship with the U.S., balance out China, and address other security threats in the region. Although conservative politics in Japan seemingly existed in a consensual agreement, my research instead demonstrates how the Peace Constitution came to the center of a conservative ideology that promoted liberal economic modernization and national security in postwar Japanese-American relations during the 1960s. In contrast to hardline conservatives, a group of moderate conservative social scientists and policy specialists defended the Peace Constitution in an attempt to re-conceptualize Japan’s experience of WWII, liberal economic modernity, and its national sovereignty and security. In the face of overwhelming American material superiority in the Cold War, these moderate conservative academics supported the Peace Constitution as a way of enabling Japan to appropriate American power and ideology, while simultaneously justifying the role of the American military in an anti-colonial context. This dependent autonomy came to be at the heart of the Japanese idea of realism. In an effort to reintegrate fragmented Japanese society, the moderates used the Peace Constitution to coopt the leftist logic of anti-colonialism, while collaborating with the state as members of the Advisory Board to the Prime Minister of Japan to promote a project of national modernization based on their scientific knowledge of management.

 

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia

* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia

* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu

*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.

The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.

November 14, 2018
by baikjongyoon
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Nov 21, Tom Ginsburg | “Legality in Contemporary Chinese Politics”

EAST ASIA WORKSHOP: POLITICS, ECONOMY & SOCIETY

 

“Legality in Contemporary Chinese Politics”

 

Tom Ginsburg

University of Chicago Law School

 

Nov 21, Wed 12:00-1:30 pm

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

Pizza will be provided

About the Presenter

Tom Ginsburg is the Leo Spitz Professor of International Law at the University of Chicago, where he also holds an appointment in the Political Science Department.  He holds B.A., J.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He currently co-directs the Comparative Constitutions Project, an NSF-funded data set cataloging the world’s constitutions since 1789, that runs the award-winning Constitute website.  His latest book is How to Save a Constitutional Democracy (2018, with Aziz Huq), and his other books include Judicial Reputation: A Comparative Theory (2015) (with Nuno Garoupa); The Endurance of National Constitutions (2009) (with Zachary Elkins and James Melton), which won the best book award from Comparative Democratization Section of American Political Science Association; and Judicial Review in New Democracies (2003), winner of the C. Herman Pritchett Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Before entering law teaching, he served as a legal advisor at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands, and he has consulted with numerous international development agencies and governments on legal and constitutional reform.  He currently serves a senior advisor on Constitution Building to International IDEA.

Abstract

The picture of Chinese law that many Western scholars and commentators portray is an increasingly bleak one: since the mid-2000s, China has been retreating from legal reform back into unchecked authoritarianism. This article argues that, much to the contrary, Chinese politics have in fact become substantially more law-oriented over the past five years. The Chinese Communist Party under Xi Jinping has indeed centralized power and control to an almost unprecedented extent, but it has done this in a highly legalistic way, empowering courts against other state and Party entities, insisting on legal professionalism, and bringing political powers that were formerly the exclusive possession of the Party under legal authorization and regulation. In fact, nowhere is this “legalism” more powerfully expressed than in the 2018 amendments to the Chinese Constitution, which show that, even if China is indeed deepening its dictatorship, it is nonetheless doing so through harnessing the organizational and legitimizing capacities of law, rather than circumventing it.

We argue that both top-down political considerations and bottom-up social demand are driving this recent turn towards legality: first, as a purely instrumental matter, governing China in a centralized, top-down manner requires a strong commitment to bureaucratic legalization. The sheer size of the country and its population creates severe principal-agent and resource allocation problems that force central authorities to either recognize some version of de-facto federalism, or to combat local corruption and abuse through rigorous law enforcement. With the recent political turn away from decentralized administration, the Party leadership must pursue the latter strategy of investing in legality. Second, and perhaps more interestingly, the Chinese population increasingly seems to attach significant amounts of sociopolitical legitimacy to law and legality. As a result, empowering legal institutions and positioning the Party leadership as a champion of legality against traditional bureaucratic corruption has been a major source of both personal status and popular political legitimacy.

 

* Subscribe  to our workshop mailing-list at: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/info/east-asia
* Abstract or description of each presentation will be posted on our website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia
* Questions and comments can be addressed to the student coordinators Jongyoon Baik: baikjongyoon@uchicago.edu and Ji Xue: jixue@uchicago.edu
*Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinators in advance.
The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences.
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