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From Resistance to Advocacy: Political Representation for Disabled People in China

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2011

Xi Chen
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Email: xichen48@email.unc.edu (corresponding author)
Ping Xu
Affiliation:
Louisiana State University. Email: pxu5@tigers.lsu.edu
Corresponding

Abstract

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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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The China Quarterly 2011

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References

1 Chen, Xi, “Institutional conversion and collective petitioning in China,” in O'Brien, Kevin (ed.), Popular Protest in China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), pp. 5470Google Scholar.

2 Tanner, Murray Scot, “The National People's Congress,” in Goldman, Merle and MacFarquhar, Roderick (eds.), The Paradox of China's Post-Mao Reforms (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 124Google Scholar.

3 Such vehicles are called “motorized vehicles designed for disabled people” (canjiren jidongche) in China. Most of them are tricycles. For convenience, I refer to them three-wheelers or tricycles.

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8 See e.g. ibid.

9 Two cadres from City Y and Guangzhou chapter explained that the quota could not be met mainly because there were not enough disabled people qualified for the positions. Interviews, May and June 2008.

10 Tanner, “The National People's Congress,” p. 124.

11 Unger and Chan, “China, corporatism, and the East Asian model”; and Wilson, Jeanne L., “‘The Polish lesson’: China and Poland 1980–1990,” Studies in Comparative Communism, Vol. 23, No. 3/4 (1990), pp. 259–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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16 Unger and Chan, “China, corporatism, and the East Asian model,” p. 37.

17 Ibid. p. 40.

Ibid

18 Ding, “Institutional amphibiousness,” pp. 303–04.

19 O'Brien, Kevin, “Agents and remonstrators: role accumulation by Chinese People's Congress deputies,” The China Quarterly, No. 138 (1994), p. 378Google Scholar.

20 Ding, “Institutional amphibiousness,” pp. 303–04.

21 Harper, “The Party and unions in Communist China,” p. 97.

22 From Kohrman, Matthew, Bodies of Difference: Experiences of Disability and Institutional Advocacy in the Making of Modern China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 131CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 Deng's speech in 1999, collected in the Xinfang Bureau in City Y in 2002.

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25 Interview, May 2008.

26 Cited from Kohrman, Bodies of Difference, p. 51.

27 Ibid. p. 202.

Ibid

28 Ibid. p. 205.

Ibid

29 Interview, June 2008.

30 Interview, May 2008.

31 Kohrman, Bodies of Difference.

32 The CDPF, Zhongguo canjiren shiye tongji nianjian (Chinese Disability Affairs Yearbook), 2003, 2006.

33 Interview, 2002.

34 Interview, January 2008.

35 Interview, January 2008.

36 For a discussion of extreme cases, see Gerring, John, Social Science Methodology: A Criterial Framework (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

37 Harper, “The Party and unions in Communist China,” p. 109.

38 Feng Chen, “Between the state and labour,” p. 1026.

39 Interview, June 2008, in Panyu, Guangdong province.

40 Interviews, June and July, 2008, in Yiyang, Hunan province, Xiangshan, Zhejiang province, and Jingzhou, Hubei province.

41 Bernstein, Thomas P., “Farmer discontent and regime responses,” in Goldman, Merle and Macfarquhar, Roderick (eds.), The Paradox of China's Post-Mao Reforms (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 198Google Scholar.

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43 Ibid. p. 59.

Ibid

44 Dickson, Bruce, “Cooptation and corporatism in China: the logic of Party adaptation,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 115, No. 4 (2000–01), p. 535CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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