Social Protest in Contemporary China, 2003-2010: Transitional Pains and Regime Legitimacy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Social Protest in Contemporary China, 2003-2010

Transitional Pains and Regime Legitimacy, 1st Edition

By Yanqi Tong, Shaohua Lei


234 pages | 26 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780815374787
pub: 2017-10-13
Hardback: 9780415605694
pub: 2013-10-09
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pub: 2013-11-12
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China's economic transformation has brought with it much social dislocation, which in turn has led to much social protest. This book presents a comprehensive analysis of the large-scale mass incidents which have taken place in the last decade. The book analyses these incidents systematically, discussing their nature, causes and outcomes. It shows the wide range of protests – tax riots, land and labour disputes, disputes within companies, including private and foreign companies, environmental protests and ethnic clashes – and shows how the nature of protests has changed over time. The book argues that the protests have been prompted by the socioeconomic transformations of the last decade, which have dislocated many individuals and groups, whilst also giving society increased autonomy and social freedom, enabling many people to become more vocal and active in their confrontations with the state. It suggests that many protests are related to corruption, that is failures by officials to adhere to the high standards which should be expected from benevolent government; it demonstrates how the Chinese state, far from being rigid, bureaucratic and authoritarian, is often sensitive and flexible in its response to protest, frequently addressing grievances and learning from its own mistakes; and it shows how the multilevel responsibility structure of the Chinese regime has enabled the central government to absorb the shock waves of social protest and continue to enjoy legitimacy.


"Social protest is a sensitive and intricate topic in China. In most cases, this kind of event is called in another name by both the Chinese authorities and media: mass incident, a neutral term that is used to downplay the impact of such incidents. […] Social Protest in Contemporary China, 2003-2010: Transitional Pains and Regime Legitimacy offers another perspective to explore China’s social protest. This is an academically serious publication. It is not written for propaganda purposes or to push a particular ideology. The conclusions it made are all based on meticulous analyses supported by full literatures as well as accurate data. Unlike many statements that just focus on judging the legitimacy of some certain social protests, this book argues for the unavoidability of growing protests in a dramatically transforming country."Asian Review, Global Times, Friday October 18, 2013

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Analyzing Social Protests 3. An Overview of Large-scale Social Protests 4. Subsistence Expectation Protests 5. Benevolence Violation Protests 6. Protests over Developmental Syndromes and Identity 7. Creating Public Opinion Pressure: Large-Scale Internet Protests 8. Government Responses and Regime Resilience 9. Conclusion

About the Authors

Yanqi Tong is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Utah

Shaohua Lei is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Political Science, Tsinghua University

About the Series

China Policy Series

With the rise of China and its impact on the world, interest in China has increased drastically in recent years. This series focuses on policy-oriented research and scholarly works with policy implications, on all aspects of contemporary Chinese economy, politics, society, environment, journalism and cultures.  It also covers China’s foreign relations with major international organizations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and World Bank, and major powers such as the United States, European Union (and its member states), Japan and others.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General