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  • Author: Heike Holbig
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: For more than two decades, the National Planning Office for Philosophy and Social Sciences (NPOPSS) has been managing official funding of social science research in China under the orbit of the Communist Party of China's (C PC) propaganda system. By focusing on "Major Projects", the most prestigious and well-funded program initiated by the NPOPSS in 2004, this contribution outlines the political and institutional ramifications of this line of official funding and attempts to identify larger shifts during the past decade in the "ideologics" of official social science research funding – the changing ideological circumscriptions of research agendas in the more narrow sense of echoing party theory and rhetoric and – in the broader sense – of adapting to an increasingly dominant official discourse of cultural and national self-assertion. To conclude, this article offers reflections on the potential repercussions of these shifts for international academic collaboration.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Doris Fischer
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Over the past three decades, China's fast economic development has induced considerable changes in China's university and research institution landscape, research financing and academic career incentives. This paper argues that these changes have affected the motivation and the ways in which Chinese scholars engage in international research cooperation. Most recently it has been observed that strong pressures on scholars and scientists – especially at leading academic institutions – to excel in international publications while simultaneously fulfilling their obligation to generate income for their institutions can lead to a dilemma with regard to international research cooperation: Those institutions and scholars most interesting for foreign scholars to cooperate with may be the ones with the least amount of both incentive and time to enter into serious cooperation. This article invites us to reflect on the implications of these changes in the incentive structure for cooperation in social science research on China.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Josef Gregory Mahoney
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper discusses how cooperation between Chinese researchers and their foreign counterparts has changed. The paper draws on current literature and the author's experience as a researcher in the US and in China, arguing that while cooperation has increased overall, it has done so in ways that have crowded out old forms of cooperation or made them passé. The paper focuses particularly on how changes at leading Chinese research institutions have impacted international cooperation, both positively and negatively, and suggests ways in which foreign scholars might effectively pursue new avenues for cooperation and exchange.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Christian Gobel
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Field research in China often requires the researcher to cooperate with two kinds of actors: research collaborators, such as those at universities or official think tanks, and local officials. These actors facilitate or enhance field access, but such access comes at the price of a potential "pre-selection bias" in data collection. Some scholars have argued that dependence on these "gatekeepers" introduces a significant bias into research outcomes. I argue, however, that the constraints faced by China scholars in their field studies are not absolute, but function by degree. The CCP is monolithic neither in its organization nor in the thoughts of its agents, and close collaboration with local partners can help remove normative bias rather than necessarily introducing it. Most importantly, an argument built exclusively on the power of structural constraints discounts China scholars' most crucial abilities: to learn, to think critically and to research holistically.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Ya-ning Kao
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines two cases of Zhuang religious revival involving multiple actors. It shows how consideration of "superstition" (迷信, mixin) places some religious practice outside the institutional framework when discussing the modern concept of religion in China. In this paper, I particularly focus on two main dimensions of religious revival among the Zhuang people. The first is a grassroots dimension that involves the revival of a so-called "superstitious" cult in which Zhuang people along the Sino-Vietnamese border carry out shamanic rituals to make offerings to a powerful chief-turned-deity, Nong Zhigao, and his wife. The second dimension is a top-down dynamic and involves a series of projects conducted by Zhuang officials, scholars and business persons, which aim to standardize a Zhuang religion, known as Mo religion. These two cases of religious revival demonstrate the varied strategies utilized by different actors in response to government policies regarding religion in China.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Martin Saxel
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The relation between ethnicity and religion has had a troubled history in the People's Republic of China. Conflating religious practice with ethnic culture is considered to carry the risk of breeding "splittism" – especially in Tibet and Xinjiang. While in the post-Mao era the outright hostility against religion has given way to a religious revival, keeping religion and (nationality) politics separate has remained a major concern for the Chinese Communist Party. Religion is supposed to be a private matter that does not interfere with politics. Against this backdrop, a recent phenomenon in the Tibet Autonomous Region is all the more remarkable: the (re-)fusion of ethnicity and religion under the label of cultural heritage and its protection. This paper approaches this officially endorsed re-fusion ethno-graphically and examines its wider implications. I argue that endorsing religion as an attribute of Tibetan heritage corresponds to the concept of defining public spaces and events in which religious practice is legitimate and expected. Simultaneously, religious practices outside these dedicated spaces and events become even more problematic, leading to everyday Buddhist practices, such as circumambulation, being seen as (and performed as) political acts.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Sonny Lo
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The complexities of central–local relations in the People's Republic of China (PRC) include at least two main policy dimensions: control over personnel and the appointment of local authorities by the central government in Beijing and the fiscal relations between the centre and the localities.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou
  • Author: Ka Ho Mok, Gengua Hueng
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China's welfare system is a typical “residual welfare regime”, which did not manifest too many flaws in the planned economy era. However, economic reform and market-oriented transformations in recent decades have shaken the original well-balanced “residual” and “needs” pattern. The decline of the “work unit system” has led to two consequences: First, it radically transformed the social and economic structures, which gave rise to increased and diversified needs of social welfare. Second, the government is being pressed to shoulder more responsibility for social welfare provisions. This article adopts a case study approach to examine changing social welfare needs and expectations in Guangzhou, a relatively developed city in southern China. With particular focus on the major strategies adopted by the Guangzhou government in addressing people's welfare needs, this article critically examines how far the new measures have met the changing welfare expectations of citizens in mainland China.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Guangzhou
  • Author: Bill Chou
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper investigates how Beijing governs its two special administrative regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau through leverages on their local autonomy. First, a conceptual analysis of local autonomy will be provided. Local autonomy is more than a zero-sum game between the central and local authorities over how much power should be granted or taken from the local authorities; it also concerns the space for cultural expression and the use of local customs in public administration. Second, the degree of local autonomy in Hong Kong and Macau will be critically examined. On paper, both SAR governments are able to freely make decisions on a wide range of policies. In practice, however, Beijing has the absolute authority to override the decisions of Hong Kong and Macau. It is argued that the autonomy in cultural expression can compensate for the institutional constraints on the two SARs' decision- making power and is thus able to alleviate public discontent – as long as the constraints do not conflict with the people's core values and ways of life.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, Hong Kong
  • Author: Lawrence K. K. Ho, Ming K. Chan
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper aims to highlight the significance of labour issues – namely, the minimum wage (MW) and standard working hours (SWH) – in shaping candidates' electoral platforms in the 2012 chief executive (CE) election of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) under the sovereignty of the People's Republic of China (PRC). We first offer a brief review of labour politics regarding the MW case as a precursor to the SWH drafting and enactment process. We then provide an analytical delineation of some of the labour and socio-economic dimensions of the CE electoral contest by comparing the candidates' campaign planks in relation to SWH. We then attempt to predict the likely course of the SWH debate under the leadership of Leung Chun-ying, who eventually won the CE election and assumed power on 1 July 2012. We conclude by examining Leung's social engineering attempts to increase popular support amongst low- and middle-income (LMI) households as part of his long-term strategy for the 2017 CE elections and his broader Beijing-entrusted political agenda.
  • Topic: Regime Change
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, Hong Kong