All societies face a key question: how to empower governments to perform essential governmental functions while constraining the arbitrary exercise of power. This balance, always in flux, is particularly fluid in today's China. This insightful book examines the changing relationship between that state and its society, as demonstrated by numerous reform efforts at subnational levels, and explores the implications for China and the world.
Ann Florini, Hairong Lai, and Yeling Tan set their analysis in a comparative context, investigating how China's changing understanding of key governance tools and concepts compares with—and is influenced by—developments and debates elsewhere. China Experiments draws on several specific cases to show how local authorities have responded to the challenges posed by Beijing's rapid transformation. The book thus differs from others on Chinese governance that focus on the pronouncements of intellectuals, and it is unique in its detailed, empirically grounded analysis.
The introduction sets the context and raises key overarching questions. It addresses among other factors the wide variety of experiments underway by which authorities are trying to adapt local governance structures to new demands. Chapters 2–5 then explore the factors driving various specific governance reforms in China. Each chapter explains the importance of various types of reforms in terms of implications for governance, provides international and national context, and draws upon specific case studies. The final chapter suggests a series of criteria by which China's political trajectory can be assessed.
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