Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2011
Although many state agencies in China are designated with a function of “representing” ordinary people's interests, they are poorly structured for that purpose. It is therefore puzzling why some of them have at times actively and effectively advocated the interests of ordinary people, even when such interests may conflict with state policies. To solve this puzzle, this article examines a recent campaign by the Chinese Disabled Persons Federation to resist a national trend to ban the use of three-wheelers for passenger transport by many local governments. Our analysis recognizes the importance of personal motivations and favourable political structure, but it emphasizes that forceful popular collective action can create both pressure and opportunity for active state advocacy. Such a pattern of mutual-reinforcement between mass organizations and their constituency has sometimes contributed to the dynamics of political change in the reform era.
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