Essay on Chinese Political History

Essay on Chinese Political History

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Chinese political history harkening back to dynastic rule recalls notions of a highly centralized government, a bloated and corrupt bureaucracy, and the limited power of commoners to significantly change their circumstances, much less how they are governed. With the introduction of political reforms in recent years meant to fortify local governance by allowing the Chinese people to elect officials, scholars have paid increased attention to the effectiveness of these local governments. In the readings I selected from Perry and Goldman (2007), this effectiveness of village-level local governments in relation to the central government, as well as the extent to which longstanding bureaucratic and cultural norms from earlier times are still present in the existing system, are both prominent themes in each of the articles.
Looking specifically at village elections, substantial evidence points to the continued problems of corruption among elected officials and how this obviously compromises the legitimacy and effectiveness of local governance as democratic institutions. In Levy's (2007) analysis of the election of village committees in Henan and Guangdong provinces, he looks at recent developments in village self-government, the rise of economically-based rural elites in the village power structure, the degree that local governance and elections have been able to combat corruption vis-à-vis vote-buying, and how corruption and vote-buying are related to the new rural elite's growing significance.1
In discussing the recent developments in local governance, Levy (2007) addresses the role of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the competitiveness of the village elections, the presence of women in government positions, corruption, and the...


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...tural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square movement pointing to how the government blamed the unfortunate outcomes of those events on “black hands” or “bad elements” in society, which led to unfortunate consequences for the scapegoats. Therefore, contemporary activists have much reason to be wary of any negative labels imposed upon them by the Chinese government.
From only a handful of chapters on grassroots political reform in contemporary China, two themes were made abundantly clear. First, elements of pre-Communist China still pervade the present day Chinese society, and continue to affect their politics and culture. Second, the problems of corruption and accountability that are seen at all levels of Chinese government are especially salient when appraised at the village level. Taken together, these two points help elaborate the complexities of Chinese governance.

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