Susanne Brunnbauer, Chapter V: Birds’ Unequal Struggle to Escape the Authoritarian Cage of Governance. Civil Society in China and Taiwan: Does Strength Matter to Achieving Democratization? in:

Nele Noesselt (ed.)

Reassessing Chinese Politics, page 91 - 118

National System Dynamics and Global Implications

1. Edition 2019, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4325-7, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7265-3,

Series: East Asian Politics: Regional and Global Dynamics, vol. 1

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
91 Chapter V: Birds’ Unequal Struggle to Escape the Authoritarian Cage of Governance. Civil Society in China and Taiwan: Does Strength Matter to Achieving Democratization? Susanne Brunnbauer Introduction “Taiwan has remained a high performer in terms of democratic politics and liberal market policies. It continues to enjoy a high degree of stateness, meaningful elections, the absence of undemocratic veto actors, stable democratic institutions and a vibrant civil society, and does extremely well in guaranteeing its citizens political rights and civil liberties .” (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2018a) “The [Chinese] government tightened the screws on any form of dissent [and it] implemented a series of laws and regulations that further constrain civil and political liberties […] Xi also made it very clear [...] that the CCP stood above the law, thereby legitimizing the use of drastic and illegal measures to intimidate intellectuals, scientists, lawyers and NGOs [...]” (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2018b) Since many years, Taiwan has established itself within the ranks of consolidated democracies (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2018a; Freedom House 2018). The reaction of the Taiwan government to public protests like the Sunflower Movement in spring 2014—known as “the biggest prodemocracy protest rally in the island’s history” (Rowen 2015: 5), which lasted twenty-four days and remained peaceful throughout—reflects the country’s entrenched democratic status. The claims of more than 350,000 protesters against the Cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement with China in general—due to fears of the future hazardous influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the crucial third sector in Taiwan—as well as against the closed-doors negotiations of the government in particular were both heard and deliberated (Rowen 2015: 15). When considering the island as a flagship and textbook example of democratization during the prominent third wave of regime transformations, however, one needs to bear in mind that it only underwent its 92 democratic evolution in the late 1980s—and that after several years of martial law and the severe repression of local elites (Chien 2016: 31; Wright 1999: 986; Schubert 2013: 514–515; Mayrgündter 2004: 73). A series of favorable events and factors that preceded the opening up of a momentous window of opportunity are what even enabled Taiwan’s transformation. The dangerous vacuum and isolation in the international arena due to the lack of global recognition, the United States’ diplomatic reorientation toward China, as well as the accompanying loss of a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council forced the rethinking of the composition of ruling elites and empowered the already illegally operating opposition (Merkel 2010: 276; Mayrgündter 2004: 93–94). In China, on the contrary, political scientists today operate with the notion of “consultative autocracy,” representing a system wherein civil society actors are involved and actively consulted in the public policy process. This happens still only in a very limited manner, however, and without any tendency toward permitting pluralism or endangering the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) single-party rule: an “autocracy with Chinese characteristics” (Ang 2018; Truex 2017; He/Thøgersen 2010; He/Warren 2011). Over the course of the past few decades, the authoritarian leadership of the CCP has increasingly approved grassroots civic activism and civil society engagement—with more than 650,000 nongovernmental organizations (NGO) currently officially operating in the country, while the estimated figure at the end of 2016 reached three million.18 The commitment of the Chinese authoritarian government to democracy and to political activism in particular remains, though, mostly dismissive (Hsu/Chen/Horsley/Stern 2016; Wang 2010: 5). Today, civil society in the PRC—in particular those parts of it advocating civil rights—faces tighter restrictions than ever before (Kautz/Holbig 2015: 78; Stern/O’Brien 2012: 178). The public announcement of the “Document No. 9” in April 2013 officially confirmed the banishment of expressions like “universal values,” “civil society,” or “freedom of the press” from any public arena (Tomzak 2015: 5; Weyand 2016). Despite this tabooing, NGOs, advocacy groups, and activists have attempted to circumvent the restrictions and “play edgeball” (Li 2012)—but menaces remain ubiquitous (Stern/O’Brien 2012; Kautz/Holbig 2015: 78–79). Fields nonconfrontational and nonthreatening to the regime, like environmental matters, have experienced an unprecedented rise in importance of late and witnessed the explosion of their organizational activities— whereas the available spaces for 18 For an extensive overview hereof, see Hsu et al. (2016). 93 actors in the human, social, or labor rights domains have been constantly narrowed down since the inauguration of Xi Jinping (Weyand 2016; Sausmikat 2015; Stern/O’Brien 2012: 178). At the latest since under President Jiang Zemin in 1997, civil society in China has been increasingly forced into the “corset” of service provision (Stern/O’Brien 2012: 178; Sausmikat 2015; Wu 2003: 34–35),19 with no room left for civil liberties. Despite these restrictions, however, grassroots activism in China has still simultaneously witnessed an unprecedented boom during the last few decades (Stern/O’Brien 2012: 179). On the other hand, its bordering island Taiwan is celebrated as the “first Chinese democracy” (Mayrgündter 2004: 111) and as a peerless role model for democratization worldwide (Chien 2016: 31; Wright 1999: 986). The miracle of the vibrant Taiwanese democracy pathway equals a trump card for attracting foreign investment and garnering attention from the international audience (Sausmikat 2016: 2; Gilley 2008: 15). Even though the “regional domino effect” (Merkel 2010: 17) of the third wave of democratization never affected the authoritarian regime of China, is there a chance for “spillover” in future at least?20 In order to understand these countries’ striking (non)transformational pathways, one has to unravel past starting points and mutual developments; in particular, as they could not be more diverse despite their common history, unresolved and indeed clashing stateness issues (known as the dilemma of the “One China Principle”),21 shared cultural background, regional proximity, and equal post-revolutionary opportunity structures (Gilley 2008: 5, 16). Accordingly, despite these analogical primary conditions, the Taiwanese “civic bird”—derived from the popular metaphor of the bird in the cage—was historically able to vigorously follow the trajectory of democratization, whereas—until today—its Chinese counterpart has continued to inch along within a narrow space of authoritarian rule and solid caging bars. The metaphor of the bird in the cage is based on the popular impression of the features of the introduced market economy in China, which nonetheless operate within the cage of the still-maintained structures of a planned economy (Noesselt 2012: 216). In the context of this essay, this visual comparison is 19 Government-organized nongovernmental organizations (GONGO) are meant to provide controllable solutions aligned with state interests and simultaneously to act under the guise of a “bottom-up” civic process. For a detailed analysis on these very common “service delivery agencies” in China, see Wu (2003). 20 At greater length, see Gilley (2008: 15–18). 21 From 1949 until today, Taiwan and the PRC have mutually declared themselves as the exclusive representatives of China and closely conformed to the maxim of “one legitimate Chinese state” (Meseznikov 2013: 14). 94 transferred to the diverging state-society relations (or rather, bird-cage interplay) of China and Taiwan; thereby it builds on the notion of the “cage of regulations” that the currently ruling president of the PRC, Xi Jinping, has introduced to control civil society (Hsu et al. 2016). This essay explicitly focuses on the political opportunity structures of those civil society actors in China and Taiwan who either pursued change in the status quo or sought to divert the authoritarian pathway. The discussion is based on a comparative approach of analysis being taken alongside the theoretical reasoning of Wolfgang Merkel (2010) on embedded democracy, as well as the functionalist concept of civil society. Against this backdrop, it focuses on juxtaposing the Chinese and Ta iwanese trajectories of (absent) transformation—which seem to differ substantially, despite both countries’ common history as well as similar reform and opening up stimuli after the turmoil of the mid-1970s and the death of the respective leading figures of the day—Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek. Thereby, this essay strives to answer the following questions: What role do diverging conceptions of statehood and statesociety relations play regarding the strength and leveraging potential of civil society in China and Taiwan vis-à-vis triggering change? As a logical consequence hereof: What impact did civic engagement have in fostering transformation toward democracy, or in pursuing a deliberative authoritarian pathway from the mid-1970s onward? Functions of Civil Society in a Transforming State and Its “Embedding” Role for Democracy As previous studies have shown, the diffuse complexity of East Asia as a region calls for the multidimensional study of processes—building therein on theoretical reasoning conducted on a macro as well as a micro level. Hence, the overall institutional state structure has to be explored by simultaneously considering the intentions and interests of all involved actors, and their granted scope of action. In particular, as “system change”—including the shift from an authoritarian toward a democratically grounded political system—seriously affects the future “allocation of values and goods” (Merkel 2010: 21; author’s own translation) as well as power structures within a more or less differentiated society (Mayrgündter 2004: 17; Derichs/Heberer 2013: 7). Undoubtedly in today’s understanding, civil society represents an “arena”—thus, an intermediate sphere between state and privacy wherein primarily collective actors organize and articulate public interests (Bailer/Bodenstein/Heinrich 2008: 237). 95 This arena remains an indispensable part of a vibrant modern society. Nevertheless, with view to their leveraging potential, civic actions can equally be controversial. Whereas the inherent meaning of civil society is often broadly described as the “space between the state and private activities within the family context” (Heberer 2013: 168), in the early years of the new century Wolfgang Merkel developed a more comprehensive theoretical basis for a functionalist concept of civil society. This is grounded in the experiences of the third wave of democratization on a global scale and combines reasoning on the role of civil society and the transformation of authoritarian systems toward full-fledged democracies (Merkel 2010).22 Merkel considers both levels of analysis—macro and micro—but with a view to the comprehensive system of interactions he differentiates between two specific spheres: namely, “internal and external embeddedness”23 (2004: 43–48; 2010: 67–86). Apart from the socioeconomic context and the international as well as regional setting, civil society acts also as an external enclosing factor for so-called “embedded democracies”. Thereby it is meant to enable, stabilize, and protect the five indispensable partial regimes of democracy, which are for their part internally embedded and strongly interlinked (view Figure 1). Of course, vice versa, civil engagement could also threaten the stability of the partial regimes by being nonparticipatory or noncooperative. Still, the defining and basic functions of civil society are summed up as follows: protection of the individual against unjustified state interference; mediation and equilibrium between the political/nonpolitical spheres; socialization and teaching of democratic thinking; integration of societal interests into the political fora; and, critical and public discourse (Merkel 2010: 36, 125; 2004: 45–47).24 22 As a point of reference for defining democracy, Merkel draws on the minimal procedural definition introduced by Robert Dahl (1971). For a comprehensive overview hereof, see Merkel (2010: 26–28). 23 Internal embeddedness implies the interdependence of all five (for their part, still independent) partial regimes. Conversely, externally embedded political systems dispose protection from unpredictable disruption and shocks (Merkel 2004: 36). 24 Merkel draws on theoretical assumptions of leading political theorists: John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, David Truman, Seymour Martin Lipset, Alexis von Tocqueville, and Jürgen Habermas. 96 Figure V.1: The Concept of Embedded Democracy Source: Author’s own elaboration, based on Merkel (2004: 37). In China, a country that at its current stage of development stands at most as a deliberative autocracy,25 all regime levels and subunits are impeded and suspended by the communist-authoritarian party rule of the CCP (Heberer 2013: 43). Thereby, civic political participation only works within a very narrow space of action (ibid.: 41). But, might it provoke system change? To address this, the externally embedding factor of civil society needs to be studied specifically with a view to its transformative potential within the given “corridor of action” available for actively shaping and influencing the political sphere (Merkel 2010: 87–88, 97).26 In order to recapture the diverging pathways in China and Taiwan, the focus of this study here lies in the civic / public sphere and the status of statehood—as well as the mutual dependencies regarding 25 “Deliberative authoritarianism” describes the interlinkage of authoritarian rule and democracy-resembling political devices like elections, consultative forums, reformist legislatures, or better transparency. For more information on these, see He/Warren (2011). 26 Transformation in this sense follows the reasoning of Derichs and Heberer (2013: 18), representing the collapse of the authoritarian system for the benefit of democracy. 97 democratization and authoritarian consistencies in the two assessed countries. Inevitably the question arises about the role of legitimacy and consent among the wider public of both types of regime, in China and Taiwan. Unlike democracies, authoritarian regimes cannot draw upon political pluralism—becoming legitimate instead through performance, adaptiveness, and “façade elections” (Derichs/Heberer 2013: 14; Heberer 2013: 116).27 Therefore, in the view of the ruling elites, changes and challenges to the sustained political order are regarded as severe threats to their own survival, and are thus sidestepped by a reliance on repression, comprehensive control, and far-reaching intersocietal interventions (Merkel 2010: 59–62). Generally speaking, nevertheless, the socioeconomic development level and contemporary global setting play a significant role for the PRC as well as Taiwan. While Taiwan witnessed an economic rise already under the Kuomintang (KMT) regime (starting in 1947), China would only first take off two decades later. Nevertheless, widely recognized research on the interplay of wealth and democracy with longstanding traditions within the framework of modernization theory has shown that “the more well-to-do a nation, the greater the chances that it will sustain democracy” (Lipset 1959: 75). The triggering role of economic prosperity for democratization has not been proven yet, meanwhile (Bailer et al. 2008: 243). Regarding the countries’ initial integration in world affairs, the status of the island of Taiwan could not have been more restrictive and isolated—rendering the mainland significantly more favorable conditions for its own further opening up in the 1980s. Of course, external promoters of democratization—like international nongovernmental organizations—need to be taken into account; this essay will focus, however, specifically on the internal processes in the two countries. 27 Marxist-Leninist ideology requires the sacrifice and deprivation of society in the present, while promising wealth and freedom for all—though that in some intangible future (Merkel 2010: 59). 98 Ti m ef ra m e C hi na Ta iw an U ni te d St at es In te rn at io na l A re na C ol d W ar p er io d A lli an ce b et w ee n C hi na a nd th e So vi et U ni on to c ou nt er ba la nc e th e U S; Ta iw an is su e se co nd ar y Si nc e M ay 1 94 9: m ar tia l la w 19 87 (e nd o f m ar tia l l aw ): pr oa ct iv el y pu rs ui ng a n op en in g po lic y to w ar d th e in te rn at io na l a re na C on ta in m en t p ol ic y ag ai ns t C hi na ; Ta iw an a s s tr at eg ic p ar tn er a nd fa vo ra bl e m ili ta ry b as e du ri ng K or ea n W ar ; M ut ua l D ef en se T re at y w ith T ai w an 1 95 5 (s er ve d as U S ba se d ur in g th e K or ea n W ar ) U nt il 19 71 : g ov er nm en t i n Ta ip ei a s so le le gi tim at e re pr es en ta tiv e of C hi na a t th e U N C ha ng in g w or ld po w er p ol iti cs du ri ng th e 19 70 s/ 19 80 s Si no -S ov ie t s pl it en co ur ag es U S- C hi na ra pp ro ch em en t; ne w e ra o f r ef or m a nd o pe ni ng u nd er th e le ad er sh ip o f D en g Xi ao pi ng ; ea rl y 19 80 s: ch an ge in p ol ic y to w ar d Ta iw an fr om v io le nt li be ra tio n to p ea ce fu l re un ifi ca tio n; po lit ic al ra pp ro ch em en t b et w ee n Be iji ng an d Ta ip ei th ro ug h ec on om ic re la tio ns : in te ns ify in g tr ad e, in ve st m en t, an d co nt ac t “s tr at eg ic a m bi gu ity ” (e qu iv oc al a nd fl ex ib le a tti tu de to w ar d bo th C hi na a nd T ai w an ); Sh an gh ai C om m un iq ue s ( 19 72 , 1 97 8, 19 82 ) = b as is fo r t he fu tu re U S “O ne - C hi na P ol ic y” ; 19 79 : o ffi ci al re co gn iti on o f C hi na a nd te rm in at io n of d ip lo m at ic re la tio ns w ith Ta iw an ; A pr il 10 , 1 97 9: T ai w an R el at io ns A ct (T RA ) a s l eg al fr am ew or k of U S- Ta iw an bi la te ra l r el at io ns (n o gu ar an te e, o nl y op tio na l c om m itm en t); re vo ca tio n of th e M ut ua l D ef en se T re at y O ct ob er 2 6, 1 97 1: G A Re so lu tio n 27 58 ; go ve rn m en t i n Be iji ng a s so le le gi tim at e re pr es en ta tiv e of C hi na a t t he U N Po st -C ol d W ar pe ri od (1 99 0s ) C on se ns us 1 99 2: “ O ne -C hi na P ri nc ip le ”; Ta iw an C ri si s 1 99 5– 19 96 M aj or g oa ls : p re ve nt io n of T ai w an ’s in de pe nd en ce a nd re un ifi ca tio n (m ili ta ry m ea ns a re n ot e xc lu de d in c as e of a ny in de pe nd en ce a tte m pt s b y Ta ip ei ); 20 05 A nt i-S ec es si on L aw ; Pr es su re a ga in st T ai w an ’s p ar tic ip at io n in th e in te rn at io na l s ph er e, li ke in th e W or ld H ea lth A ss em bl y or th e U N C on ve nt io n on C lim at e C ha ng e (i. e. v et o po w er in th e U N SC ) C on se ns us 1 99 2: “ O ne C hi na , r es pe ct iv e in te rp re ta tio ns ”; “p ra gm at ic d ip lo m ac y” o f Le e Te ng -h ui ’s go ve rn m en t: Ta iw an pr oa ct iv el y an d cr ea tiv el y ad vo ca tin g fo r m em be rs hi p in v ar io us IO s ( ad op tin g di ffe re nt na m es li ke “ C hi ne se Ta ip ei ” or m em be rs hi p st at us es ) D ur in g Ta iw an C ri si s 1 99 5– 19 96 : f ir st op en a nd d ir ec t m ili ta ry c on fr on ta tio n w ith C hi na ; “a cc om m od at io ni st a pp ro ac h” : m or e ex pl ic it po si tio ni ng o f W as hi ng to n re ga rd in g U S in te re st s i n a de m oc ra tic an d se lfde te rm in ed T ai w an a ga in st th re at s o f C hi na a s r is in g gl ob al p ow er A cc or di ng to in te rn at io na l la w : T ai w an re m ai ns a st ab le de fa ct o re gi m e (d ip lo m at ic al ly la rg el y is ol at ed , b ut p ol iti ca lly a nd ec on om ic al ly in te gr at ed ); Ta iw an is su e re ga rd ed a s a n in te rn al a ffa ir o f t he P RC ; 17 c ou nt ri es m ai nt ai n di pl om at ic re la tio ns w ith Ta iw an ; i t i s t he m em be r o f 32 IO s ( 20 18 ), W TO si nc e 20 02 Po st -T ai w an C ri si s ( si nc e 19 96 ) So ur ce : A ut ho r’ s o w n el ab or at io n, b as ed o n Le e (2 00 3) , L ee /W en (2 01 8) , N eu ki rc he n (2 00 5) , W ei (2 01 5) , a nd W in kl er (2 01 1) . N ot e: IO s = in te rn at io na l o rg an iz at io ns Ta bl e V .1 : T he S ta tu s o f T aiw an as V iew ed b y M ajo r A ct or s a t D iff er en t T im es w ith in th e P er io d un de r C on sid er at io n 99 The Question of Cultural Adaptiveness For the purposes of the following discussion, it is difficult to avoid invoking the vivid debate about a new type of “Asian democracy” and taking Asian values into account in Political Science—which has scrutinized the impact of Confucianism on the specific model of democracy in Asian countries (Derichs/Heberer 2013: 19–20). Yet, is there a need to consider an “outlier” scenario in enclosing Taiwan as an “Asian form of democracy”28 with respect to any future pathway of China itself? The argument of Merkel, who strongly questions the adaptiveness of the already contested concept of culture and cultural specificities to any political theory of democratization, seems convincing here. Following the reasoning of Confucian ideas—thus, cultural particularities existing within at least some Asian countries—and as the subsequent analysis will also show, the democratization processes witnessed in Taiwan would not have been capable of being triggered by societal pressures alone (2010: 321–322; Sausmikat 2016: 1). Nevertheless, one has to acknowledge that the Western concept of civil society is indivisible from the idea of societal change and development being initiated in a bottom-up manner—thus occurring without state interference, and “rescuing” the community from arbitrary state rule (Heberer 2013: 168; Syryamkina/ Stupnikova 2015: 190; Wu 2003: 35). Moreover, as Syryamkina and Stupnikova note: “Civil society frequently appears as an extraneous model that is copied in post -socialist countries without paying attention to their own history and traditions” (2015: 190).29 Following this argument, Bailer et al. (2008) claim that only reliable political structures have a propulsive strengthening effect on civil society. This argument strongly advocates taking a top-down approach, wherein passive civic engagement follows as a response to 28 Relating thereto, Samuel Huntington (1996) argued in his discourse on the “clash of civilizations” that “democratic Confucianism” would be a “contradiction in terms” following the incompatibility of Asian norms, values, and political traditions and the Western liberal understanding of democracy (Merkel 2010: 319). 29 Certainly, the idea of civil society has undergone intense debate within Chinese society during the last few decades. As well, remarkably though, the meaning differs greatly from the Western equation of it with an independent, politically active sphere of society dissociated from any type of state activism (Noesselt 2012: 209– 210, 232–233). Gongmin shehui as the “community of the public nation” does not include any questions on power, but entrusts responsibility to all citizens with respect to equally shared public goods (Heberer 2013: 168, author’s own translation; Noesselt 2012: 219). 100 stimuli initiated by the state itself (ibid.: 238-240).30 These thoughts require further discussion, specifically by undertaking theoretical considerations of both civil society as a sphere of civic action and of pathways of transformation toward democracy. In the present case, the considered timeframe spans roughly three decades— starting from the mid-1970s and continuing up to the early twenty-first century. Certainly, however, this outlook offers perspectives with regard to the latest developments of recent years, too. Thereby only decisive points in time in the trajectories of both countries lie at the heart of the discussion, enabling the creation of a holistic picture of the divergent developments under consideration. In this retrospective approach, which aims at considering and reflecting on the prerequisites that emerged during the respective inceptions of the two societies, the lack of statistical data requires the discussion of a wide spectrum of secondary literature instead. Atmosphere of Change Prefaced the 1980s Nowadays, Taiwan is proudly praised as the “first Chinese Democracy” (Mayrgündter 2004: 111)—emerging from a vibrant civil society having escaped the authoritarian rule of the KMT regime. However, formerly, KMT autocrats themselves had been forced to flee from their ruling position in mainland China in 1947, in the course of the Chinese civil war then raging. Instead of learning their lessons from this, however, the regime still installed a repressive authoritarian dictatorship grounded in a state of emergency upheld by martial law (ibid.: 114). Without going into too much detail here, the totalitarian regime of Mao Zedong in the PRC between 1949 and 1976 simultaneously left behind even deeper marks and wounds within Chinese society on the mainland meanwhile when tens of millions Chinese citizens lost their lives through mass starvation and persecution during the Cultural Revolution (Heberer 2013: 43–46; Gilley 2008: 2; Goldman/Esarey 2008: 51). Hence, the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 constitutes an event of the utmost importance for the PRC. Subsequently, the socioeconomic rise of China ushered in a new era of reform and opening under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping—succeeding a decade of extreme political oppression. The transition toward a capitalist market economy became tangible, and the favorable contemporary international setting helped 30 For a more comprehensive overview of the debate in Political Science on the adaptiveness of established theoretical frameworks on civil society to China, see Noesselt (2012: 216–218). 101 China to gain recognition within the global community; the legitimacy gains of the ruling CCP regime through increasing social welfare were also evident. While the PRC now enjoyed the attention of the US as a result of a shift in the latter’s foreign policy under President Richard Nixon, Taiwan remained in deep isolation (Merkel 2010: 276; Mayrgündter 2004: 93–94). Initially, even the internal situation did not look promising: like in China, the political scene in Taiwan up until the mid-1970s had been characterized by the harsh, authoritarian “modernizing dictatorship” (Merkel 2010: 267) of the one-party KMT regime. Open spaces for political participation by civil society actors were restricted to KMTsteered state corporatism, and thus practically nonexistent (Meseznikov 2013: 30). Advocacy groups in all spheres of societal life, from farmers associations to trade unions, were integrated into strong and steering state structures—ones anything but independent (Mayrgündter 2004: 69; Derichs/Heberer 2013: 24). However, in parallel to developments on the mainland, the KMT-ruled island—which insisted on its independence from China—was confronted with the death of its leader, Chiang Kai-shek, in 1975 and the subsequent more modest takeover by his son, Chiang Ching-kuo. The change in leadership equally gave rise to the atmosphere of a new departure. While, until then, the legitimacy of the KMT rulership mostly had drawn on continuous economic prosperity, the eternal threat of the PRC, international isolation, nonrecognition, as well as, of course, the ideological foundations adopted in previous periods prior to the Chinese civil war, civil society actors now scented change (Gilley 2008: 16; Merkel 2010: 266–267). Thus, the political system of KMT rule increasingly came under “transformation pressure” (Merkel 2010: 65). Even though the international conditions were more favorable for China, pressure and expectations were equally high in both countries; how could their turnouts following subsequent developments be so antithetical, then? Conception of State-Society Relations and Implications for System Change Following the outlined reasoning, we now need to take a deeper look into the diverging pathways of Taiwan and China in the course of subsequent years. This includes the comprehensive analysis of the two main levels of involved actors’ interplay: civil society and the state. 102 Taiwan: Controlled opening to free democratic spirits What followed after the change in leadership in Taiwan needs to be distinguished out from a sudden change in the system of governance. The period of Taiwanese transition toward democracy extended over a period of roughly a decade (1986–1994), involving constant brokering processes between all involved actors (Merkel 2010: 65). By this, dramatic shifts and any chaos could be averted, and alterations in structures, functions, and attitudes within the state apparatus—but in particular within civil society—were internalized. Soon, the longstanding socioeconomic modernization and uprising showed their impact within Taiwanese civil society: Members of the emerging middle class, students, young intellectuals, and reformists— who had gained in number during the period of economic prosperity— formed the Dangwai Movement (equivalent to “beyond the party”), claiming a lack of open political spheres for civic participation. This had been preceded by mass protests in Kaoshiung and Taipei, as well as frequent student movements in the late 1970s, which demonstrated the risk-taking of civil society actors—who, at this stage, induced repression and harsh persecution from the government by their actions (Mayrgündter 2004: 94–95, 115). The already slightly tarnished legitimacy of the KMT regime came under further pressure henceforth owing to its own modernization policy, rejuvenation of old cadres, and its promising of events like the release of 3,600 political prisoners by the so-called Clemency Law in 1975 (Mayrgündter 2004: 95–96; Goldman/Esarey 2008: 50; Merkel 2010: 276, 280). In parallel to these internal struggles, the radical pivoting toward China by Taiwan’s strongest ally, the US, in cancelling all diplomatic relations with the Republic of China as well as the abrogation of the US-Taiwan mutual defense treaty—being accompanied by the withdrawal of crucial US support for the KMT government— strengthened the acceptance of KMT “softliners” calling for reform (Mayrgündter 2004: 93–94; Gilley 2008: 13, Lee 2003, 73–75).31 Even though the US stressed its further commitment to stand up for Taiwan’s security by adopting the Taiwan Relations Act in the same year, which from then on represented the legal framework of US-Taiwan bilateral relations, the formerly guaranteed agreement on mutual defense subsequently became no more than an option and expression of general interest (Lee 2003, 75–76; 160–161). 31 By serving as a US military base during the Korean War, Taiwan had enjoyed the strong support of the superpower until then (Lee 2003: 9; Mayrgündter 2004: 125). 103 On the island, the de facto approval and nodding through by the dominant softliners around Chiang Ching-kuo, resulting from the lack of internal backing for the ruling elites as well as international isolation, enabled the official recognition of the Dangwai Movement as an independent political party in 1987 (though already tolerated in 1986) (Wright 1999: 997; Lee 2003: 80). The ending of the state of emergency, after thirty-nine years, with the withdrawal of martial law on July 15, 1987 marked the definite loss of power of the KMT and is what induced the shift toward political pluralism in the first place (Mayrgündter 2004: 97; Goldman/Esarey 2008: 50–51). As martial law had served as the legal basis of authoritarian rule, oppression, prohibition of any opposition, and harsh discrimination against the native population, the withdrawal, therefore, equaled an elimination of the legal footing of repressive measures and it made opposition even legally possible (Chien 2016: 24–25; Mayrgündter 2004: 115–116). Alongside these structural changes, the years of 1986–1989 were characterized by the emergence of free political spaces that opened up through the granting of freedom of speech and the facilitation of association, protest, and organization by the softliner KMT regime under Chiang Ching-kuo, and also his successor Lee Teng-hui (Wright 1999: 997). The consequences hereof have been described by Mayrgündter as a “boom of sociopolitical activities” (2004: 71). Thus, for instance, the number of NGOs exploded; from approximately 11,000 in 1987 to 25,000 in the year 2000 (Sausmikat 2016: 2). By gaining access to the political sphere and oppositional power, the control and balancing function of civil society could proliferate (Mayrgündter 2004: 74; Goldman/Esarey 2008: 49). Labor unions, social organizations, and student movements all formed, and protests arose throughout the country claiming political pluralism and representation (Mayrgündter 2004: 99, 101–102; Sausmikat 2016: 2–5).32 In order to retain control of the opening up processes, the KMT government was forced to enter into direct discussions with the demanding mass of civil society actors. Thereby, the Conference on National Affairs in late June 1990—when civil society actors were closely integrated into the discourse on the reshaping of the Taiwanese political system—became a symbol for the final kicking off of democratic modernization, and for the decisive split from the island nation’s authoritarian past (Mayrgündter 2004: 102–103, 123). The first universal, free, and fair elections of the National Assembly took place in December 1991; together with the new election of the 32 For a comprehensive overview of the social movements during the 1980s, see Meseznikov (2013: 32–35). 104 Legislative Yuan one year later, these “founding elections” solidified democracy and the presidential-parliamentary form of governance in Taiwan (Merkel 2010: 107–108, 110). Only a few years later, during the tough years of the Taiwan Crisis of 1995–1996 and with it the direct confrontation between China and the US-supported island, in March of the latter year the first-ever direct presidential elections took place (Lee 2003: 12). These were remembered by then foreign minister James CF Huang (2006) as: “a key milestone in Taiwan’s democratization process, especially when one recalls that it was held despite direct threats from China in the form of missiles being test-fired near the major ports of Taiwan. Rather than cower in fear, the people of Taiwan chose freedom and democracy. They safeguarded the success of Taiwan’s first ever direct presidential election.” The eruption of this crisis abruptly ended a short period of thawing and rapprochement between the mainland and Taiwan during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The cross-strait “1992 Consensus” on the existence of “one China” stemmed from the semiofficial meeting between them; Taipei established the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), and Beijing founded the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). This oral agreement, however, ended up with two distinct interpretations of “China’s legitimate governing body” emerging between Beijing and Taipei (Albert 2018; Wei 2015: 68–71). Even though the Consensus is known for its core purpose being “reducing mistrust and hostility and opening communication,” in the long run it also enshrined the strong disagreement over—if not outright impasse on—the island’s future status (Tan 2017). In Taiwan, dividing lines within civil society and on the political sphere remained intense with disputes over the One China Principle. However, open political spaces enabled a peerless broad debate and even the splitting of political parties into factions (Mayrgündter 2004: 77–78; Derichs/Heberer 2013: 31–32). As a consequence, the KMT experienced the fracturing of its own party lines in the late 1990s—resulting in a momentous gain in power by the opposition forces, headed by the Democratic Progress Party (DPP). It is nonetheless key to note that system change on the island of Taiwan did not automatically entail the substitution of former ruling KMT elites. Quite the contrary, in fact: throughout all initial major democratic elections, the well-established KMT party officials would emerge victorious. In December 1991 still 71 percent of the electorate voted for the KMT; likewise, the parliamentary elections in the 105 following year had a positive outcome for the ruling elites of 53 percent—31 percent for the DPP (Mayrgündter 2004: 106). Nevertheless, alongside the upheaval with civil society actors, the internal structures and factionalism within the KMT led to cleavages emerging between reformists and old guard party officials (being historically grounded, they were often referred to as “mainlanders”). Only in March 2000 did the first president of the DPP, Chen Shuibian, seize the opportunity and step into office, thereby abrogating decades of KMT rule; “the first Chinese Democracy” (ibid.: 75-76, 111-112; Merkel 2010: 293) stretched out its wings. Finally, the democratic soft landing in Taiwan followed the lines of an evolutionary pathway that had been initially activated and steered by the rejuvenated reformist ruling elites of the KMT in fact (Merkel 2010: 101, 123). Accompanied by the growth in a critical and venturesome mass of civic actors, the shift started as soon as the KMT government loosened and finally relinquished control over its monopoly on political decision-making processes by entering into negotiations with civil society and, thus, opening up a corridor of action (ibid.: 105, 261; Mayrgündter 2004: 123; Wright 1999: 1007). As soon as a gentle breeze of political and democratic participation was felt by the Taiwanese regimecritical civic actors, going into reverse appeared impossible (Mayrgündter 2004: 95); civil society as a “school of democracy”33 had already taken up instilling democratic thinking and teaching its freed spirits to fly. The retention of power by the KMT leaders, nonetheless, was due to the interweaving of civil society engagement into the political sphere through steadily more relaxed but yet still controlled state corporatism as well as majoritarian consensus about the continued threat of mainland China. In the course of the consolidation of democracy and with the accompanying decrease of potential authoritarian pressures, a vibrant civil society—in the form of unions, NGOs, and a diverse field of advocacy groups— emerged and would enrich Taiwanese political culture to this day (Merkel 2010: 276–277, 315; Meseznikov 2013: 52– 53). 33 As promoted by Alexis de Tocqueville (1999). 106 China: Solid bars guaranteeing stability and regime survival Meanwhile on the mainland… The inauguration of Deng Xiaoping in 1977 represented the emergence into a new era of unprecedented economic rise, prosperity, as well as liberalization, one that even intensified during the 1980s and sparked visions of a more democratic future for the PRC, too; at the latest as the comprehensive political and social transformation getting underway (Gilley 2008: 2; Heberer 2013: 49, 59–60, 65; The Guardian 2008). Like in neighboring Taiwan, these initial processes were accompanied by the release of thousands of political prisoners, efforts for enhanced political transparency, as well as by the rejuvenation of political cadres and the replacement of old officials with younger, better educated newcomers (Heberer 2013: 48, 66). Undoubtedly international pressures existed for China as well as for Taiwan, but the impact on domestic civil society interests—and, thus, the internal leveraging effect—was nonetheless heavily limited (Gilley 2008: 13). Internally, nevertheless, a new dynamic and powerful middle class quickly emerged, new forms of civic organization developed, and market diversification as well as the opening up also to international ones all accelerated. Inevitably, claims for political modernization grew stronger (Heberer 2013: 49–50); social changes including pluralization, burgeoning societal autonomy, and economic stability envisaged through privatization triggered in fact a precarious situation of instability and increasing civic demands, though (ibid.: 48, 53, 55–56, 65; Derichs/Heberer 2013: 13). The famous “cat theory” put forward by Deng Xiaoping—“It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white; as long as it catches mice, it’s a good cat”—stood true in the context of the grand transformation from planned to market economy (Fan 2016, Meyer- Larsen 1993). Hence, the message was clear: legitimacy of the ruling elites was strongly built on the PRC’s economic performance and output, though fully independent from the system underpinning it. Why was this cat not able to open the cage and let civil society fly, however? Indeed, there had been some optimistic moments: the most prominent one of bottom-up progress in the 1980s was triggered by strongly discriminated against and impoverished farmers resisting the instructions of the ruling elites and returning to individual cultivation and selfemployment instead. The subsequent capitulation of the CCP elites , by their agreement not to open “Pandora’s box” and risk instability, showed the potential of the “weapons of the weak” (Scott 1985; Heberer 2013: 57). However, this ultimately proved to be an exception and the result of political uncertainty arising out of the immediate 107 legitimacy crisis following Mao Zedong’s death, as well as due to the unfamiliar consequences of privatization which implied the increase in autonomy and the strengthening of the individual vis-à-vis the state (Heberer 2013: 57–58, 70; Wang 2010: 22). From the other—governmental—perspective, the expansion of direct elections in 1979 has to be regarded as an attempt to symbolize proximity to the people and their free choice to participate. This overture represented a putatively appropriate reaction to modernizing pressures, but due to the tight steering of directions, candidates, and the electoral body, traditional party politics were rapidly back on the agenda (Heberer 2013: 121, 130; Gilley 2008: 3, 12).34 The break with the old system, basic reforms, and opening up to the international arena all came along with the preservation of the authoritarian one-party rule of the CCP (Heberer 2013: 46; Goldman/Esarey 2008: 49) and—presumably as a consequence of the Maoist Cultural Revolution—correlated with a conception of man not encompassing assertive behavior but rather the adaptiveness of humans to the requirements of their society (Heberer 2013: 44). In the 1980s, the emerging voices of civil society actors rather belonged to “establishment intellectuals” strongly interconnected with state agency and party officials (Gilley 2008: 9). Relating thereto, the organizational sphere of civil society activism was shaped by the adoption of framework legislation that closely linked social organizations and foundations—the only approved form of organized civic action—to state agencies. Besides this, the “dual management system” introduced in 1988 forced civil society organizations to accept an official state steered patron too (Wu/He 2013: 5-6). This constriction ensured service provision by civil society actors, and inhibited any violations of well-patrolled “forbidden zones” which included challenges to the One China Principle, the right to practice Falun Gong, and any criticism that might question the hegemony of the CCP (Stern/O’Brien 2012: 174, 176; Heberer 2013: 174; Wu/He 2013: 6). In China most notably, privatization led to the blossoming of civil society actors in the course of the 1980s and 1990s, but civic activities were initiated, supported, steered, and controlled by the authoritarian rulership of CCP—a “within-regime dynamic,” as Gilley defines it (2008: 10; Heberer 2013: 171). Continuously and unchallenged, the 34 Direct elections have been expanded on the smallest unit level, thereby establishing or rather stimulating a controlled form of civic participation. Still, they do not play a significate role for challenging the ruling elites in the Western understanding of electoral implications—even though the psychological function hereof should not be underestimated (Heberer 2013: 117, 126, 130; Gilley 2008: 3). 108 CCP exhibited control as well as political decision-making and represented the “meta-authority” within the state maintaining its role of absolute leadership by law (Heberer 2013: 74–80; Kautz/Holbig 2015: 83). Under the governments of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao pragmatism and technocratic thinking dominated the political sphere (Goldman/Esarey 2008: 52; The Guardian 2008). Copying Western thinking was frowned upon, and modernization should occur without any loss of own Chinese identity (Heberer 2013: 40–41). Civil society, on the other hand, was strongly interlinked with social responsibility and the elimination of injustice, as well as of corruption— the basic “strategy for justification” of the state, as Kautz and Holbig (2015: 83) identify it. Formally, since 1982, the Constitution (Article 35) had guaranteed Chinese citizens freedom of speech, association, and protest, while in reality these rights were swept under the carpet as they remained subordinate to the party’s decisions and sole responsibility for policy interpretation (Heberer 2013: 86; Kautz/Holbig 2015: 84; Gilley 2008: 12). Participation did not aim at “societal emancipation,” but at contributing to the duties and needs of the (state-steered) community (Derichs/Heberer 2013: 27).35 Tellingly, only in 1995 did Chinese civil society actors first come into contact with the concept of a “nongovernmental organization”—thus, civic units strictly independent from the state apparatus (Wu/He 2013: 7). Politicians who had fallen from grace like Hu Yaobang in 1987 or Zhao Ziyang in 1989, who for their part had been actively engaged in open criticism of the ideological underpinnings of CCP rule, became victims of the purge (Goldman/Esarey 2008: 49–50)—as their reform ideas went “too far in undermining the party’s rule and [the CCP’s] power” (Heberer 2013: 50). Remarkably, many political activists did not show significant ambitions to turn existing governance structures upside down but rather only to trigger change within the establishment (Goldman/Esarey 2008: 52). Provocative, resilient outsiders to the establishment like the Democracy Wall Movement were rare but nonetheless among the initiators of the large-scale protests in Tiananmen Square (ibid.: 50). The events of June 3 and 4, 1989, nevertheless ought to have had a disabusing effect for civil society actors who formerly had been spoiled by thoughts of further liberalization, opening, and demands for democratization: with might and main the CCP government reasserted its power during the brutal intervention in 1989, which led to more than 2,000 fatalities (Gilley 2008: 3, 8). Even tighter control, 35 Therefore, Derichs and Heberer introduce the expression of “recruited participation” (2013: 27). 109 further crackdowns on civil political activism, and greater persecution followed in subsequent years (Goldman/Esarey 2008: 50). After the violent oppression and destruction of these mass movements, the CCP government installed a repressive registration and administration process against any form of civic activism in October 1989; it was meant to fully exert control over civil society operations (Heberer 2013: 175; Goldman/Esarey 2008: 50–51; Noesselt 2012: 218–219). An exit strategy? According to estimates, the number of illegal underground grassroot organizations exceeds, as mentioned earlier, three million today while many nongovernmental forms of civic engagement pretend to have a strictly economic focus (Heberer 2013: 175). Instead of political participation by civil society, politics has become increasingly bound to economic considerations (ibid.: 62); “cadre capitalism” (ibid.: 67, author’s own translation) describes this merging process best. During the period considered, the CCP (re)established its immanent hegemonic order and power over civil society—answering each new surge of pluralism with repressive and stifling measures. Thus, any coordinated establishment of social or political independent structures remained far out of reach (Goldman/Esarey 2008: 51–52)—personal freedom seemed accepted, rather, on the very individual level of each citizen (Heberer 2013: 52). Following these lines, the legitimacy of the CCP ruling elites has always been based on functional aspects like modernization, development, economic prosperity, and stability (ibid.: 63; Wang 2010: 28). Thereby, the Chinese authoritarian government has indeed been able to “navigate the treacherous waters of the ‘transition zone’” (Gilley 2008: 11) for its own benefit. Whereas the KMT in Taiwan quickly slipped into a serious legitimacy crisis, mainland China under the CCP managed to offset instability by rational, cohesive, and strengthened appearance as well as acting (ibid.: 18). Besides the events of Tiananmen Square, and due to the persecution of and lack of collective learning processes of critical civic engagement, the exertion of influence of Chinese civil society during the entire period of investigation has ultimately remained limited to active membership in party politics, or “rightful resistance” (Heberer 2013: 129– 134) —meaning that even though civil society is still able to voice its disapproval of corrupt and law-breaking local authorities, the legitimacy of the ruling elites per se is not questioned.36 Any controlling and shaping of the political sphere in China has failed to manifest. Moreover, so far, the prediction of former US president George W. Bush has not materialized: “As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that 36 For a more extensive overview on rightful resistance, see O’Brien (2013). 110 once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it can not [sic] be closed. As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands for political freedom will grow as well” (US Government 2005: 1728). As the case of Taiwan has already revealed, political choices, opportunity structures, and feelings of endangerment among the ruling elites exerted considerable weight on the potentiality of civil society and its available corridor of action (Goldman/Esarey 2008: 53–54). In China, meanwhile, the brutal approach of the CCP dispersed any dissent or potentially regime-threatening behavior. Ironically, the introduction of the newest political concept, the “Chinese dream,” in 2012 builds upon the vision of a “harmonious society”—the “new”37 overarching political goal that was first proclaimed during the 4th Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee in September 2004 (Heberer 2013: 63). However, due to the rise of (nonharmonious) cleavages between civil society demands and CCP adaptiveness, Gilley (2008: 14) brings up the question of an emerging risk of the PRC experiencing a “hard landing” to democracy—or even the development of a “People’s Republic of Chinastan” under the CCP hegemon “where democratic freedom advances barely at all” (Gilley 2008: 14). Ultimately, the essential task for the PRC’s ruling elites remains the avoidance of any disorder and chaos (Derichs/Heberer 2013: 15). Democracy, as “a system of ruled open-endedness, or organized uncertainty” (Przeworksi 1991: 13), would equate to the worst-case scenario for the Chinese political regime. Instead of protecting civil society against arbitrary state rule, then, the crucial dimension of protection lies rather within state power ensuring control and stability (Derichs/Heberer 2013: 17, 22, 24; Heberer 2013: 62; Wang 2010: 27) ; until today, these increasingly solidified cage bars have proven to be shatterproof. The Rise of Civil Society in China: The Illusion of a Window of Opportunity for Democratization? The political system in China still does not permit the breaking down of hierarchies within the state-society structure. Civil engagement widens at all spheres of societal cohabitation; however, only in sectors that function supportively but will never challenge the omnipotence of the 37 The novelty of it can be questioned as it reflects the already established and many years practiced political consensus about state-society relations: the role of the state as moral cudgel and spotter of societal discrepancies, and an increasingly economy-oriented focus to development (Heberer 2013: 64, 77). 111 ruling elites (Heberer 2013: 85; Stern/O’Brien 2012: 179). The resilience of the autocratic system seems to succeed as long as the rulership is receptive and, in a way, responding to societal needs and demands (Derichs/Heberer 2013: 14). Civil society does not seem to be too inherently weak, but rather lacks an available doorway into comprehensively challenging the authoritarian cadres.38 This reasoning supplements the argument of Gilley that “truly ‘civil’ society is a result of democratization itself” (2008: 19). Another way of thinking might be to challenge the concept of democracy as a whole. Even though the leadership in Beijing pursues a self-determined path toward democracy, one with Chinese features (Ang 2018), the stability of this form of governance in general still appears attractive (Holbig/Schucher 2016).39 The rapprochement and reconciliation between the KMT and CCP since 2005, as well as the growing openness of Beijing to dealing with the Taiwan experience as a positive example of transformation, underline this argument (Gilley 2008: 15; Wei 2015).40 Furthermore, in recent years China has tried hard to improve its international image, permitting civil engagement and even critique of the existing political system in an unprecedented manner. Nevertheless, the ultimate absolute decision-making authority and sole reign of the CCP is not up for discussion or debate. Rather, the contrary is true: any challenge is subject to strict punishment (Tomzak 2015: 4). Unlike the Western understanding of a self-determined, powerful civil society that might even bear responsibility for the transformation of a whole political system, the case of Taiwan’s own systemic change calls for adding in to considerations the triggering factor of a receptive reformist elite. That alongside the external factors of positive socioeconomic development and a supportive international setting, too. The long-lasting survival of the KMT regime in Taiwan demonstrates, nevertheless, that a complete change of elites is not necessarily required. Ruling elites remain the actors of paramount importance to enabling the initiation of change and the broadening of the public sphere of action. In China, the eventual succeeding leadership to Xi Jinping might be favorable to a change in the basis of its legitimacy—thereby allowing the existence of 38 Stern and O’Brien sum this aspect up by quoting the head of a well-known NGO: “We are wearing a sword, but we never pull it out” (2012: 179). 39 For a more extensive overview of the perceptions and role of democracy in the Chinese scientific debate, see Noesselt (2012: 225–228). 40 Chu (2008: 27–46) even argues that CCP rule in mainland China equals the KMT regime of the past, and that the transition to democracy might, therefore, already be on the doorstep. 112 movements like the New Civil Movement, founded in 2012, (Strittmatter 2014) and consequently opening up a forum for genuine debate.41 Whereas during the turbulent 1980s Taiwanese civil society benefited from fragile caging bars in the form of a vulnerable state apparatus, the similarly crumbling bars of the Chinese cage would be substituted with new, even thicker ones by the CCP regime. Until today, the young Chinese civic bird—which likewise would have a fantastic voice—only sings the songs that it is allowed to sing, or otherwise faces the threat of harsh punishment. What truth lies, then, in proclamations of dissidents like Xu Zhiyong about the growing unease of the Chinese civic bird and those who perceive “the awakening of civil society in China” despite all of the—even mounting—repression (Strittmatter 2014)? This is a question few if any might dare to answer today, but seemingly the CCP leadership does, indeed, feel increasingly threatened by burgeoning civic activism. Hence, in the end—while thinking back to the metaphor of Chinese and Taiwanese civil society as the birds in the cage—it seems appropriate to note that, as the “exceptional case”42 of Taiwan has shown, it might need an external force—be it the governing elites themselves— to open the small door that frees the struggling spirits and thereby grants them democratic liberation (Wright 1999: 986). Whereas the Chinese bird seems to constantly grow, albeit with no forecasts on how its size might fit into the caging system of authoritarian CCP rule in future, the release of the Taiwanese bird in the 1980s ended up in a full-fledged democracy by the turn of the millennium. It is disputable whether foreign democracy promoters can play a helping hand in opening up a narrow such gap; as the recent restrictive law passed on foreign civil society organizations has proven,43 the current ruling elite in Beijing is visibly dismissive of—if not outright hostile to—any interference in its internal 41 Xu Zhiyong, lawyer and founder of the movement (demonstrating peacefully for more transparency and rule of law) has been sentenced to four years in prison, while many other members and supporters of the movement face persecution, punishment, and several years of jail time from the CCP regime, most of them accused of violations of the public order. 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The Chinese government has recently reconfirmed its “going global” strategy. Beijing is currently constructing a global “New Silk Road,” and has begun to engage in various transcontinental infrastructure projects. From the long-term perspective, the corridors of this New Silk Road might facilitate the exporting of Chinese governance paradigms and hence lead to the formation of institutions that pose a severe challenge to the existing liberal order. The essays in this volume thus take a closer look at recent governance innovations and domestic policy experimentations in China, and also discuss international and regional responses to China’s active positioning as a global power.

The book series East Asian Politics: Regional and Global Dynamics publishes cutting-edge research on dynamic changes in and recent development trends of East Asian politics. The series follows a multilevel framework of analysis: It examines the impact of global power shifts and the transformation of the international system on (domestic) politics in East Asia.