1st Edition

The Struggle for Democracy in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong Sharp Power and its Discontents

By Andreas Fulda Copyright 2019
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    The key question at the heart of this book is to what extent political activists in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have made progress in their quest to liberalise and democratise their respective polities. Taking a long historical perspective, the book compares and contrasts the political development trajectory in the three regions from the early 1970s—from the election-driven liberalisation in Taiwan from 1969, the Democracy Wall Movement in mainland China in 1978, and the top-down political reforms of Governor Patten in Hong Kong after 1992—until the present day. More specifically, it sets out the different strategies and tactics political activists have taken, assesses the lessons activists have learned from both successes and failures and considers how these experiences have informed their struggles for democracy. Importantly, the book demonstrates that at the same time, throughout the period and earlier, the Chinese Communist Party has been making use of "sharp power" —penetrating the political and information environments in Western democracies to manipulate debate and suppress dissenters living both inside and outside China—in order to strengthen its domestic position. The book discusses the nature of this sharp power, explores the rise of the security state within mainland China and examines the effectiveness of the approach, arguing that in Taiwan and Hong Kong the approach has been counterproductive, with civil society, campaigns for greater democracy and the flourishing of religion in part stimulated by the Chinese Communist Party's sharp power practices.

    Preface, 1. Introduction, 2. Mainland China's incomplete modernisation, 3. Dissecting the dynamics of the struggle for democracy, 4. Theories of and for political change, 5. The calamity of Chinese Communist Party rule in mainland China, 6. The trials and tribulations of mainland China's democracy movement, 7. The rise and demise of the KMT party-state in Taiwan, 8. Taiwan's election-driven democratisation, 9. Origins of Hong Kong's semi-democratic status, 10. Hong Kong's democracy movement: a canary in the coal mine?, 11. Sharp Power and its discontents.


    Andreas Fulda is Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham.

    "Filled with rich theoretical insights and fascinating on-the-ground stories, this wonderfully-written and absorbing book tells the story of how activists in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong think and strategize—sometimes opportunistically and at other times with deliberate intent—to advance democracy in their respective societies. The result is a compelling analysis of how and why some efforts have succeeded while others have failed, and the lessons future democracy activists should take away from both." - Elizabeth Economy, C. V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution

    "Andreas Fulda’s book is a powerful longitudinal comparison of three Chinese entities that live under very different political systems, mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and a convincing advocacy for democratization. Fulda well understands the magnitude of the obstacles that so far have prevented the People’s Republic from democratizing: the Chinese Communist Party’s Soviet or Leninist culture, the economic privileges accumulated by the Party’s Nomenklatura and its inclination to rule by bribery and by fear in order to protect them. Nonetheless, Taiwan and Hong Kong’s own trajectories and well as the maturation of mainland China’s democratic movement over the years have demonstrated that future political change is possible in the People’s Republic as well." - Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Professor of Political Science, Hong Kong Baptist University

    "An informed and vivid study that tackles an important political issue of our time: the specter of China’s sharp power. Dr. Fulda’s monograph presents a comparative and historically-grounded analysis of the trends and repercussions of democracy movements in China and its periphery, which does not only enhance our understanding of the nexus between mass protests and authoritarian resilience, but more specifically, offers a heuristic device to unpack the operations of the party-state's united front against dissent." - Edmund Cheng, Deputy Director, Comparative Governance and Public Policy Research Centre, Hong Kong Baptist University

    "This is an inspiring and timely book. Andreas Fulda makes a crucial point which cannot be reiterated enough: as researchers, we must give legitimacy to all potential outcomes for China’s future. This process starts with acknowledging that the Chinese Communist Party’s power is not inevitable. Research on Chinese politics often operates on the assumptions that the CCP will organically change itself and that democracy advocates are somehow not 'normal' people and will not be effective. Fulda suggests otherwise. By applying theories of and for political change to case studies in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he offers an innovative way for filling this major gap in existing literature. Fulda sets a standard that breaks the confines of existing analytical approaches. It is a must-read contribution." - Samantha Hoffman, Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

    "In this fresh and courageous book, Fulda pulls at the roots of his subject - democracy in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan – like a gardener tackling a by-now gnarly field, and finds hope, even a plan of action: Fill the gap between theory and practice by learning from Chinese democracy practitioners, plant into democracy theory ideas of change drawn from development studies, cultivate a humanizing pedagogy that rejects domination by propaganda and power, and move away from the internalized compliance with Communist Party discourse that is by now widespread in western academia. An inspiring read packed with ideas." - Didi Kirsten Tatlow is a former MERICS Visiting Academic Fellow. She reported from China for her hometown newspaper, the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong, the International Herald Tribune (now the global edition of The New York Times,) and The New York Times, from 2003 to 2017

    "Most of the recent political science debate on China has been centered on the regime, its governance system and its assumed stability, perfectness, fragility or decay. The results are relevant but necessarily limited as they do not take into account systematically the strategic interaction of the regime with a variety of democratizing movements, which are often hidden because of inherent regime secrecy and information blockades, officially dictated framing and sanctioned taboos. Andreas Fulda, in his role as a social scientist and civil society practitioner, takes a fresh and alternative look from the perspective of the democratizing movements at the comparative political development of Mainland China, Taiwan and Hongkong.

    His actor-centric approach reveals through twelve democratizing episodes as case studies the asynchronous processes of the gradual construction of democracy movements and democracy in the states of Greater China. It makes visible and intelligible that the democracy movements of Mainland China are vitally alive, developing, learning their lessons and preparing - by strategic decentralization, multiplication of arenas and combining different strategies and actors (anti-establishment, trans-establishment and establishment reformers) - the next steps of peaceful democracy advocacy aiming at a gradual democratic transformation.

    As a dialogue between theory and practice, external observer assessment and actor perspective, it is a fundamental contribution to the story of political development of Reform China framed by a democratic counter-narrative based on the structural trends and the experiences, learning processes and the horizons of expectation of the democracy movements. The implicit subtext of the actors and the author alike are the urgency, possibility and strategic lessons to be drawn of a social liberalism protecting Chinese citizens from fear of many kinds of political and social injustice. Everybody, social scientist or democratic activist, who is concerned about the shift to sharp authoritarianism in China and its threatening global impact and is interested in democratic alternatives made in China, should read the book. His second decisive contribution is to highlight the relevance of a civic, civil, democratic nationalism and of democratic citizen diplomacy for a sustainable peace settlement between the states of the Greater China region - in contrast to a narrow, ethnic nationalism which is present on all three sides of the Greater China arena which is identified by the author as a threat and a case of pathological learning." - Horst Fabian, Civil Society Ambassador Europe - China and independent researcher focusing on the linkages between China / Cuba, democratization and sustainable development

    "Andreas Fulda shows that even the democracy movements in the Chinese region are not exempt from the global trend towards nationalism. His critical and judicious study is a plea to combine the struggle for rights and freedom with an effort to build peace in the region." - Mark Siemons is an editor of the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and author of the book Die chinesische Verunsicherung (Hanser, 2017), in which he reflects on his insights as long-term cultural correspondent in Beijing

    "This is a highly engaged and engaging consideration of the continuing struggle for democracy in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Dr Fulda ventures beyond purely scholarly curiosity to offer practitioners fresh and stimulating analysis of past achievements and failures. The book offers some encouragement - and words of warning - to readers looking for a roadmap to democratic change in China." - Nicola Macbean, The Rights Practice