Graeme Smith and Louisa Lim
Is President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign working, or is it simply driving corruption underground? This episode we are joined by Minxin Pei from Claremont McKenna College, who has just released a forensic analysis of China’s corruption market, with insights gained from an examination of court cases. Among his findings are the fact that eighty-four percent of convicted officials were promoted while engaged in corruption, that those caught taking bribes had been doing so for an average of nine years, and that the higher the level of corruption the longer officials get away with it. Pei not only argues that China has reached the late stage of regime decay, he is even willing to estimate how much longer he believes Communist rule can last.
As the Chinese government under Xi Jinping has turned in a markedly anti-worker direction, attempts to establish a genuine collective bargaining system in China have been smothered. If collective bargaining is dead, what might Chinese workers and their allies advocate? The time might be ripe to shift our focus to a demand for a rapid expansion of universal social services, not least for a universal basic income.
With the arrest of yet another activist, the airing of yet another public confession, the closure of yet another NGO working for the weak and disenfranchised, and the passing of yet another repressive law, the world has come to view Chinese civil society as if it were on its deathbed. But maybe what is dying is just a dream of civil society with little basis in reality. While we mourn the death of an ideal, it is imperative that we overcome our sorrow to look at the momentous changes that are currently taking place in the realm of Chinese civil society. In this issue, we offer a series of perspectives on these developments.
No expertise comes without constant doubt and a willingness to challenge established truths. Chinoiresie represents our attempt to question some of today’s understandings and certainties about China. It blends the image of a ‘chinoiserie’—a foreign interpretation and imitation of Chinese artistic traditions, a term that over time has come to assume the meaning of a clichè, a stereotypical view of China—with the concept of ‘heresy’—an unorthodox view aimed at challenging a given truth.
Edited by Ivan Franceschini, Kevin Lin, and Nicholas Loubere
The Made in China Yearbook series—published in collaboration with ANU Press—offers original articles in which scholars and activists analyse the latest trends in Chinese labour and civil society. With their unique blend of in-depth scholarly work written in a direct, accessible style, these books allow readers to situate current events and policies in a wider context, and therefore serve as an indispensable reference for international activists, practitioners, and policy-makers.