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  • Author: Lee Chun-yi
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that the comparison of labour policies in Taiwan and China has an important bearing on the interaction between state and society. The fact that labour policies have changed over time illustrates a process of bargaining between the state and society. The core question of this paper is whether the development of labour policies in Taiwan can provide China a good example to learn from. In order to answer this question more systematically, the first part of this paper provides theoretical reviews of the state–society relationship, while the second part aims to verify whether those labour-favouring policies in Taiwan have changed under a different party's governance. The third part of the paper further investigates labour policy in China; this section mainly focuses on the historical background to the new labour contract law. Based on the preceding two sections' literature review of the changing path of labour policies, the fourth section scrutinises fundamental issues reflected in the development of Taiwan's labour policies, then compares how those issues are reflected in the case of China. The conclusion of this paper is that although Taiwan, like China, formerly had a one-party system, the changes in Taiwan's labour policies are not completely comparable to China, though both societies had some similarities.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Marius Korsnes
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper seeks to understand what government mechanisms have allowed China's wind industry to grow as fast as it has over the past ten years. Instead of formal rules and regulations, this paper focuses on specific sets of institutional conditions that have been crucial in the process of high-speed implementation of wind energy in China. Specifically, fragmentation and centralisation, together with policy experimentation and policy learning, have been fundamental for policy flexibility and institutional adaptability. The paper illustrates that there are benefits and disadvantages to these characteristics, and that inherent qualities of China's governing system that lead to rapid growth overlap with those that lead to challenges in terms of quality and long-term performance.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: May Tan-Mullins, Peter S. Hofman
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: There is increasing evidence that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is emerging as a management issue within Chinese business (Moon and Shen 2010; Yin and Zhang 2012). The main drivers of this movement, which are commonly discussed, include domestic political will and international pressure. However, what is less understood is the nature of the shaping of CSR. As a concept, CSR has been widely interpreted as the way companies take into account interests of a broader range of stakeholders beyond owners and shareholders of the firm. Hence, it is about the way firms develop policies and practices to minimize the negative impacts and even increase the positive impacts of their business practices on various stakeholder groups. In a Western context, the rationale for CSR has been explained as a result of interaction between business, government and society where institutional pressures that develop from these interactions lead to certain expectations regarding the nature of business practices. This is where firms increasingly see CSR as a strategic approach to maintaining and enhancing legitimacy and reputation so as to ensure the buy-in and loyalty of key stakeholder groups such as employees and customer
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: May Tan-Mullins
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China's insatiable appetite for natural resources and energy to fuel its national growth is having an increasing impact on the domestic and global environment. Globally, China has turned to resource-rich regions in Africa and South America, at times engaging so-called “rogue states” to secure the resources it requires. Now is a critical juncture at which to encourage socially responsible behaviours in the Chinese extractive sectors, such as adopting the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). This analysis discusses the current corporate social responsibility (CSR) mechanisms in extractive industries and assesses the feasibility of socialising China towards adopting CSR global norms in the extractive industries. This article has three sections. The first discusses China's environmental governance trajectory and ecological footprint in the domestic and global extractive industry. The second section discusses the factors contributing to the success and failure of various CSR mechanisms, with a specific focus on the EITI, and the final section expounds on the emerging challenges and issues and concludes with policy recommendations.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Douglas Whitehead
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: NGO–firm partnerships have been well studied in the literature on corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Marano and Tashman 2012; Dahan et al. 2010; Oetzel and Doh 2009). However, these studies have generally limited their focus to Western multinationals and Western NGOs and, moreover, not by-and-large examine in depth the institutional settings under which either the firm or the NGO operates Building on recent institutional approaches to CSR (Brammer, Jackson, and Matten 2012; Kang and Moon 2012; Matten and Moon 2008), this paper examines how the institutional dynamics of several partnerships between Chinese firms and NGOs affect the manifestation of CSR (e.g. “implicit” vs. “explicit”). The paper also looks into how CSR and NGO–firm collaboration plays out within a changing state-corporatist framework in Chinese context (Unger and Chan 1995, 2008; Hsu and Hasmath forthcoming). The paper then argues 1) that the involvement of an NGO in the partnership reflects a changing institutional setting in China, and 2) that type and level of involvement of Chinese government institutions affects whether a given firm takes an “implicit” or an “explicit” approach to CSR.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Susannah M. Davis, Dirk C. Moosmayer
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China\'s state-led model of corporate social responsibility (CSR) does not seem to present a promising environment for the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Nevertheless, we observe recent examples of NGO involvement in CSR initiatives. Chinese NGOs are using the CSR platform to challenge the environmental practices of firms operating in China. We take a field-theoretical approach that focuses on the agency of actors. We show how an international NGO proposes a new standard and how Chinese NGOs use local environmental information disclosure laws to engage with firms in the textile supply chain. We find that NGOs leverage the power of brands to influence the practices of Chinese suppliers. However, we find differences in the framing and tactics employed by international NGOs versus their Chinese counterparts. Field analysis helps better understand the actors in the field of CSR, along with their motivations and their resources, and it offers a useful perspective on civil society development in China.
  • Topic: Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Peter S. Hofman, Bin Wu, Kaiming Liu
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In this paper we evaluate three projects with the participation of 40 supplier firms in several Chinese coastal provinces representing multi-stakeholder efforts to provide alternative channels through which workers can voice their concerns. The supplier firms took on these projects to reduce worker dissatisfaction and employee turnover. The projects fill an institutional void in employer–employee relations within Chinese supplier firms as they provide alternative channels for workers to voice their concerns. The role of civil society organisations focusing on labour interests was a crucial feature of the projects, through capacity-building for workers and by providing independence. The supplier firms and their workers have benefitted as firms take measures to enhance worker satisfaction, while the reduced employee turnover positively impacted firm performance. We propose that these collaborative socially responsible practices are a potential way to strengthen the positions of workers and supplier firms in global supply chains.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Michael B. Griffiths, Jesper Zeuthen
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper argues that new interpretations of “eating bitterness” (吃苦, chiku) have firmly entered the landscape of China's social organisation. Whereas the bitterness eaten by heroic types in China's revolutionary past was directed towards serving others, now the aim of eating bitterness is self-awareness. Furthermore, bitterness-eating, which once pertained to rural-urban migrant workers as opposed to discourses of urban “quality” (素质, suzhi), has now also been taken up by the urban middle classes. A new cultural distinction, therefore, adds dignity to migrant workers while potentially marginalising a wide range of unproductive people, both urban and rural. This distinction ultimately mitigates risk to the Chinese regime because the regime makes sure to reward those who eat bitterness. This paper is based on ethnographic data gathered in Anshan, from the rural areas surrounding Chengdu, and our analysis of a TV show about a peasant boy who becomes a Special Forces soldier.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Gladys Pak Lei Chong
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article examines the ways in which taxi driving and China's quest for global ascendency are interlinked and enmeshed. Inspired by de Certeau's The Practice of Everyday Life and his conceptual formulation of “strategy” and “tactic”, this article explores how taxi drivers, through their everyday practice of driving, found ways and moments to tactically challenge and appropriate so-called “civility campaigns” and a rising China. By demonstrating the numerous instances of tactics taxi drivers used, I argue that their socio-economic marginality did not, in fact, reduce them to a “powerless” position. I bring in Foucault's analytics of power and governmentality to add to de Certeau's work by helping to explain the intertwined relationship between government and governed to shed light on the complexity implicated in the dynamics of power relations and resistance. I examine the period around the 2008 Beijing Olympics as it involved large-scale attempts to showcase China through (urban) transformation.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing
  • Author: Karsten Giese, Erdem Dikici
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: When we talk about “China in Africa”, we should always remember to differentiate between the various actors and scales that are too often conflated and hidden behind such large and all-encompassing labels like “China” or “Africa”. Common containers and the homogenizing of diversity seldom help to broaden our knowledge or deepen our understanding of the various phenomena which can be observed at the various scales of the multiple relationships that have evolved between this East Asian country and the African continent. Moreover, it is necessary to specify the point in time or particular period we are covering in our scholarly work and that from which we draw our conclusions. Quite a few of the publications addressing China–Africa relations have succumbed to broad generalizations, neglected diversity and specificity and overlooked the temporal dimension. The last couple of years, however, have seen the emergence of a growing body of well-informed case studies on the Chinese presence across the African continent that stress the particularity and the situatedness of Chinese–African encounters and interactions in Africa. We now can rely on thick descriptions of various Chinese actors' realities on the ground in Africa that more often than not defy and counter longstanding and still very common stereotypes, such as that of China's grand strategy in the scramble for Africa or of the generally exploitative and belligerent character of Chinese economic endeavours across the African continent.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China
  • Author: Romain Dittgen
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese economic activities in Africa have gained increased visibility in parallel to the recent acceleration of Sino-African relations. This paper, which is framed from a geographical perspective that is often absent or neglected in studies covering China–Africa, focuses on the spatial forms and dynamics. It depicts the way in which two contrasting Chinese economic entities – a state-owned company in Chad and privately owned commercial malls in Johannesburg, South Africa – engage with their respective host environments. While drawing on concepts of “liminality” as well as “heterotopias”, I argue that the modalities of the Chinese footprint are characterised both by closure and interaction, creating a dynamic tension that produces its own set of unique practices. This ambivalence between enclave and active linkages with host societies is not only perceivable from a spatial point of view, but also emerges with regard to economic strategies. In the midst of a transitional period, along with a launching and a consolidating phase, the Chinese economic entities in both case studies show signs of change in terms of behaviour and territorial foothold.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China
  • Author: Allen Hai Xiao
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The burgeoning interstate relation between China and Nigeria is in fact hiding the vulnerable condition of transnational Chinese petty entrepreneurship. Small-scale Chinese entrepreneurs in Nigeria are faced with everyday corruption practised by both Nigerian authorities and ordinary Nigerian people, the dominance of self-interest over cohesion and mutual support among the Chinese compatriots, and variations in state policies due to dynamic and changing interstate relations. To overcome their position of weakness, small-scale Chinese entrepreneurs strategize their interactions with both Nigerian and Chinese nationals. Informality is a characteristic of such interactions. Economic informality is primarily embodied in the documentation service businesses that are indebted to those popular corrupt practices in Nigeria; while social informality takes place in cyberspace. Interaction via the Internet among Chinese involved in Chinese–Nigerian businesses helps small-scale Chinese entrepreneurs to cope with fluctuations in interstate links at the macro-level and to develop a sense of community.
  • Political Geography: China, Nigeria
  • Author: Richard Aidoo, Steve Hess
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China's non-interference policy has come under scrutiny in regards to its growing and deepening relations in Africa. The policy has come to represent an about-face from conditional assistance and investment associated with the Washington Consensus. Although often well received in much of the global South, this policy has drawn a lot of criticism from the West and others. These commentators have perceived non-interference as an opportunistic and often inconsistent instrument for enabling China's increasing access to African resources and markets. This article suggests that despite some consistent support for the rhetoric of non-interference, China's implementation of the policy has become increasingly varied and contextualized in reaction to Africa's ever-more diversified political and economic landscape since the early 2000s.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Washington
  • Author: Timothy Steven Rich, Vasabjit Banerjee
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article highlights the precarious nature of Taiwan's diplomatic relations in Africa. Whereas Cold War rationales initially benefitted Taiwan, economic interests now appear to incentivize African countries to establish relations with China. Through qualitative and quantitative data covering much of the post-World War II era, this analysis argues that economic factors have trumped political rationales for Taiwanese–African relations. In addition, this article problematizes both conceptions of diplomatic recognition and Taiwan's enduring relations with Africa.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Taiwan
  • Author: Meiqin Wang
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article contextualises the art practice of Beijing-based artist Liu Bolin and examines ways in which his artworks illuminate the sociopolitical conditions that regulate the everyday reality of underprivileged social groups amid China's spectacular urban transformation in the 2000s. The tension between individual existence and the force of urbanization underlays Liu's most important work, entitled Hiding in the City. This performance photographic series, in which Liu covered his body thoroughly with paint so that he “disappeared” into the background, was initiated as a response towards the demolition of an artist village in Beijing where the artist resided and worked. The series has since been developed into an ambitious and years-long project in which the artist surveys the disparate urban living environment of the city, bringing to the surface dominant forces that render the existence of the individuals “invisible”.
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing
  • Author: Jonathan Hassid, Wanning Sun
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: For political scientists, Chinese media practices and communication systems provide an enduring prism through which to understand how Chinese politics work. By contrast, for media and communication scholars, politics is one of the main domains in which various media and communication forms, practices and policies can be fruitfully explored. While political scientists and media scholars share this common interest, they tend to pursue different research agendas, adopt different methods of data-gathering and analysis, and at times seem to speak a different language. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that political scientists and media scholars may even have differ- ent understandings of what constitutes valid empirical data or worthy lines of inquiry and which theoretical models and paradigms are fash- ionable or out of date. Because of this divide, the two groups of scholars unearth different findings and reach different conclusions. This leads to the curious situation in which scholars of the same field – but in different disciplines – talk past each other, or worse still, look upon each other’s work with deep suspicion. While gulfs understandably exist across disciplinary boundaries, they are, to a great extent, avoidable. In fact, collaboration between the disciplines of anthropology and media studies has provided some shining examples of cross-fertilization bearing intellectual fruit (e.g. Ginsburg, Abu-Lughod, and Larkin 2002). And there are signs that as the Chinese media are becoming increasingly regionalized and local- ized, it is becoming possible to explore the analytic perspectives de- veloped in the field of geography to make sense of the new develop- ments in scale, place and space (Sun and Chio 2012). Given this fruit- ful collaboration, there are certain to be advantages in exploring dia- logue between political scientists and media scholars.
  • Topic: Media, Local, State Media
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Wanning Sun
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: he most common framework through which we under- stand media communication and political/social stability in China is that of hegemony and control. This characterization may have served us well in documenting how the mandate for stability often results in censorship, regulation and restriction, but it has two major faults: First, the focus on crackdowns, bans and censorship usually tells us something about what the party-state does not like, but does not convey much about what it does like. Second, it often obscures the routine ways the party-state and the market work together to shore up ideological domination and maintain stability. In this analysis of the policies, economics and content of a broad range of television programmes, I suggest that we look at the media and communication as an ideological-ecological system in order to arrive at a more nu- anced understanding of the relationship between China’s media prac- tices and its ongoing objectives.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Media, Propaganda, State Media
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jonathan Hassid
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite its authoritarian bent, the Chinese government quickly and actively moves to respond to public pressure over mis- deeds revealed and discussed on the internet. Netizens have reacted with dismay to news about natural and man-made disasters, official corruption, abuse of the legal system and other prominent issues. Yet in spite of the sensitivity of such topics and the persistence of China’s censorship apparatus, Beijing usually acts to quickly address these problems rather than sweeping them under the rug. This paper dis- cusses the implications of China’s responsiveness to online opinion. While the advantages of a responsive government are clear, there are also potential dangers lurking in Beijing’s quickness to be swayed by online mass opinion. First, online opinion makers are demographical- ly skewed toward the relative “winners” in China’s economic reforms, a process that creates short-term stability but potentially ensures that in the long run the concerns of less fortunate citizens are ignored. And, second, the increasing power of internet commentary risks warping the slow, fitful – but genuine – progress that China has made in recent years toward reforming its political and legal systems.
  • Topic: Public Opinion, Media, Propaganda, State Media
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Ashley Esarey
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China’s local governments are facing a crisis of public con- fidence and have struggled to handle political dissent and popular protests. In an attempt to promote political stability, local officials around the country have utilized Twitter-like microblog sites (, weibo) to upgrade their capability to influence citizens and engage in rapid information management. Through the analysis of microblog- ging by prominent propagandists whose identities and professions are known to the public, this article finds some evidence that microblog- ging could be helping cadres to win hearts and minds, although such microblogging poses new risks to the state as netizens challenge propagandists and state policies in exchanges that reveal political pluralism and disapproval of state policies. While venting on weibo may enable people to blow off steam, the reluctance (or inability) of official microbloggers to engage their critics in meaningful dialogue suggests the limited utility of official microblogging as a means of furthering political stability through the improvement of state–society relations.
  • Topic: Protests, Propaganda, Local, Oppression
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jonathan Hassid, Sun Wanning
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Studies on public expression in China tend to focus on how the state and internet users (netizens) struggle over the limits of online expression. Few have systematically traced discourse competi- tion within state-imposed boundaries, particularly how the authoritar- ian state has adapted to manage, rather than censor, online expres- sion. This paper explores and evaluates the state’s attempts to ma- nipulate online expression without resorting to censorship and coer- cion by examining the role of internet commentators, known as the “fifty-cent army”, in Chinese cyberspace. To cope with the challenge of online expression, the authoritarian state has mobilized its agents to engage anonymously in online discussions and produce apparently spontaneous pro-regime commentary. However, due to a lack of proper motivation and the persistence of old propaganda logic, this seemingly smart adaptation has proven ineffective or even counter- productive: It not only decreases netizens’ trust in the state but also, ironically, suppresses the voices of regime supporters.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Internet, State Media, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: China, Asia