Shaking up and making up China: how the party-state compromises and creates ontological security for its subjects - by CWP Alumni Alanna Krolikowski

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018

Abstract: A growing chorus of observers has warned of threats to regime stability in China in recent years. In spite of these concerns, the party-state’s grip on power in many respects appears as strong today as at any time since 1989, making it a remarkable outlier in a shrinking pool of long-surviving authoritarian regimes. This article addresses the debate over the resilience of the Chinese party-state by suggesting that one source of this resilience lies in the regime’s distinct functions in citizens’ experience of ontological security. Ontological security refers to a basic need of individuals for a sense of continuity and order in events. The main argument is that  China’s party-state has developed a mode of rule that both compromises and creates ontological security for its citizens. On one level, the party-state undermines individuals’ ontological security. The regime has engineered profound transformations of Chinese society, producing conditions that compromise its subjects’ ontological security. At the same time, the party-state provides individuals with resources to buttress their ontological security. Official discourses function as anchors that assist individuals in this pursuit. A survey of research on Chinese politics supports these conclusions.

Journal of International Relations and Development  - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41268-018-0138-0

pp 1–25

Alanna Krolikowski Photo


References:

  1. Andreas, Joel. 2009. Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China’s New Class. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

  2. Anonymous. 2014. ‘China Focus: Hukou Reforms to Help 100 Mln Chinese’, 30 July, available at http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-07/30/c_133520576.htm. Accessed 6 Dec, 2017.

  3. Baum, Richard D. 1964. “Red and Expert”: The Politico-Ideological Foundations of China’s Great Leap Forward. Asian Survey 4 (9): 1048–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  4. Bell, Daniel A. 2010. China’s New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  5. Billioud, Sébastien. 2010. Carrying the Confucian Torch to the Masses: The Challenge of Structuring the Confucian Revival in the People’s Republic of China. Oriens Extremus 49: 201–224.Google Scholar

  6. Billioud, Sébastien, and Christopher Storey. 2008. Confucianism, “Cultural Tradition” and Official Discourses in China at the Start of the New Century. China Perspectives 3 (71): 50–65.Google Scholar

  7. Billioud, Sébastien, and Joël Thoraval. 2009. The Contemporary Revival of Confucianism: Lijiao: The Return of Ceremonies Honouring Confucius in Mainland China. China Perspectives 4 (80): 82–100.Google Scholar

  8. Brady, Anne-Marie (ed.). 2012a. China’s Thought Management. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  9. Brady, Anne-Marie. 2012b. State Confucianism, Chineseness, and Tradition in CCP Propaganda. In China’s Thought Management, ed. Anne-Marie Brady, 57–75. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  10. Brown, Kerry. 2012. ‘The Communist Party of China and Ideology’. China: An International Journal 10(2): 52–68.Google Scholar

  11. Callahan, William A. 2008. Chinese Visions of World Order: Post-Hegemonic or a New Hegemony? International Studies Review 10 (4): 749–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  12. Callahan, William A. 2004. ‘National Insecurities: Humiliation. Salvation, and Chinese Nationalism’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 29 (2): 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  13. Chang, Gene Hsin, and Guanzhong James Wen. 1997. Communal Dining and the Chinese Famine of 1958–1961. Economic Development and Cultural Change 46 (1): 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  14. Chang, Maria Hsia, and Amy Joseph. 2001. Return of the Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar

  15. Chen, Feng. 1995. Theoretical Adjustments: “The Practice Criterion” and “The Criterion of Productive Forces”. In Economic Transition and Political Legitimacy in Post-Mao China: Ideology and Reform, ed. Feng Chen, and Economic Transition, 35–64. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar

  16. Chen, Feng. 1998. Rebuilding the Party’s Normative Authority: China’s Socialist Spiritual Civilization Campaign. Problems of Post-Communism 45 (6): 33–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  17. Croft, Stuart. 2012. Constructing Ontological Insecurity: The Insecuritization of Britain’s Muslims. Contemporary Security Policy 33 (2): 219–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  18. Curtis, Henry. 2016. Constructing Cooperation: Chinese Ontological Security Seeking in the South China Sea Dispute. Journal of Borderlands Studies 31 (4): 537–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  19. Delehanty, Will K., and Brent J. Steele. 2009. Engaging the Narrative in Ontological (In)security Theory: Insights from Feminist IR. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 22 (3): 523–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  20. Deng, Xiaoping (1984) ‘Building a Socialism with a Specifically Chinese Character’. Presented at the Council of Sino-Japanese Non-Governmental Persons, Beijing, China, 30 June.Google Scholar

  21. Dutournier, Guillaume, and Zhe Ji. 2009. Social Experimentation and “popular Confucianism”: The Case of the Lujiang Cultural Education Centre. China Perspectives 4 (80): 67–81.Google Scholar

  22. Elliott, Mark. 2012. ‘The Historical Vision of the Prosperous Age (Shengshi)’. China Heritage Quarterly 29(March).Google Scholar

  23. Georgiou, Myria. 2013. Seeking Ontological Security beyond the Nation: The Role of Transnational Television. Television & New Media 14 (4): 304–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  24. Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

  25. Greenhalgh, Susan. 2008. Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  26. Guo, Baogang. 2007. Beyond Technocracy: China’s Quest for Legitimacy in the Era of Hu Jintao. In China in the Twenty-First Century, ed. Shiping Hua, and Sujian Guo, 25–47. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  27. Guo, Yingjie. 2003. Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary China: The Search for National Identity Under Reform. New York: Routledge Curzon.Google Scholar

  28. Gustafsson, Karl. 2013. Memory Politics and Ontological Security in Sino-Japanese Relations. Asian Studies Review 38 (1): 71–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  29. He, Yinan. 2007. Remembering and Forgetting the War: Elite Mythmaking, Mass Reaction, and Sino-Japanese Relations, 1950–2006. History & Memory 19 (2): 43–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  30. Heberer, Thomas. 2009. The “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”: China’s Modern Trauma. Journal of Modern Chinese History 3 (2): 165–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  31. Hess, Steve. 2013. From the Arab Spring to the Chinese Winter: The Institutional Sources of Authoritarian Vulnerability and Resilience in Egypt, Tunisia, and China. International Political Science Review 34 (3): 254–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  32. Hsiung, James C. 2012. China Into Its Second Rise: Myths, Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Challenge to Theory. Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  33. Hu, Jun. 2007. ‘Guilai’ zuojia de kunan xushi yu ziwo rentong’ [‘Narration of Misery and Self-identification of the Writers Resuming Writing after Recovering from the Anti-Rightists Movement and the Great Cultural Revolution’]. Journal of Zhuzhou Normal Advanced Technical College 12 (6): 22–25.Google Scholar

  34. Huang, Yasheng. 1995. Why China Will Not Collapse. Foreign Policy 99: 54–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  35. Huang, Zhigang. 2001. ‘Chinese Scar Literature on the Cultural Revolution as Testimony’. PhD, Carleton University, Canada.Google Scholar

  36. Hughes, Christopher. 2006. Chinese Nationalism in a Global Era. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  37. Huysmans, Jef. 1998. Security! What Do You Mean? From Concept to Thick Signifier. European Journal of International Relations 4 (2): 226–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  38. Ji, Fengyuan. 2012. Linguistic Engineering in Hu Jintao’s China. In China’s Thought Management, ed. Anne-Marie Brady, 90–103. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  39. Johnson, Ian. 2013. ‘China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities’, New York Times, 15 June, sec. World/Asia Pacific, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/world/asia/chinas-great-uprooting-moving-250-million-into-cities.html. Accessed 6 Dec, 2017.

  40. Johnson, Ian. 2014. ‘China Releases Plan to Incorporate Farmers Into Cities’, New York Times, 17 March, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/world/asia/china-releases-plan-to-integrate-farmers-in-cities.html. Accessed 6 Dec, 2017.

  41. Kinnvall, Catarina. 2004. Globalization and Religious Nationalism: Self, Identity, and the Search for Ontological Security. Political Psychology 25 (5): 741–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  42. Kinnvall, Catarina. 2006. Globalization and Religious Nationalism in India: The Search for Ontological Security. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  43. Kleinman, Arthur, and Joan Kleinman. 1994. How Bodies Remember: Social Memory and Bodily Experience of Criticism, Resistance, and Delegitimation Following China’s Cultural Revolution. New Literary History 25 (3): 707–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  44. Kluver, Alan R. 1996. Legitimating the Chinese Economic Reforms: A Rhetoric of Myth and Orthodoxy. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar

  45. Krolikowski, Alanna. 2008. State Personhood in Ontological Security Theories of International Relations and Chinese Nationalism: A Sceptical View. Chinese Journal of International Politics 2 (1): 109–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  46. Lee, Hong Yung. 1978. The Politics of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: A Case Study. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  47. Lemos, Gerard. 2012a. The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

  48. Lemos, Gerard. 2012b. ‘What Keeps the Chinese Up at Night’, New York Times, 10 September, A25, New York edition.Google Scholar

  49. Li, Cheng. 2012. ‘The End of the CCP’s Resilient Authoritarianism? A Tripartite Assessment of Shifting Power in China’. China Quarterly 211: 595–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  50. Lieberthal, Kenneth. 2010. Reflections on the Evolution of the China Field in Political Science. In Contemporary Chinese Politics: New Sources, Methods, and Field Strategies, ed. Allen Carlson, Mary E. Gallagher, Kenneth Lieberthal, and Melanie Manion, 266–277. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  51. Mao, Tse-Tung. 2001. Introducing A Co-Operative (1958). In Selected Readings from the Works, ed. Tse-Tung Mao. Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific.Google Scholar

  52. Marlow, Jim. 2002. Governmentality, Ontological Security and Ideational Stability: Preliminary Observations on the Manner, Ritual and Logic of a Particular Art of Government. Journal of Political Ideologies 7 (2): 241–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  53. McGregor, Richard. 2012. The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers, reprint. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar

  54. Mitzen, Jennifer. 2006. Ontological Security in World Politics: State Identity and the Security Dilemma. European Journal of International Relations 12 (3): 341–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  55. Nathan, Andrew J. 2015. China’s Challenge. Journal of Democracy 26 (1): 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  56. Nathan, Andrew J. 2003. Authoritarian Resilience. Journal of Democracy 14 (1): 6–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  57. Naughton, Barry, and Kellee S. Tsai (eds.). 2015. State Capitalism, Institutional Adaptation, and the Chinese Miracle. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  58. Pei, Minxin. 2012. Is CCP Rule Fragile or Resilient? Journal of Democracy 23 (1): 27–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  59. Pei, Minxin. 2014. The Chinese Political Order: Resilience or Decay? Modern China Studies 20 (1): 1–27.Google Scholar

  60. Pei, Minxin. 2016. Transition in China?: More Likely than You Think. Journal of Democracy 27 (4): 5–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  61. Perry, Elizabeth J. 2007. Studying Chinese Politics: Farewell to Revolution? China Journal 1 (57): 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  62. Plänkers, Tomas. 2011. Psychic Impact and Outcome of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). A Psychoanalytic Research Project at the Sigmund-Freud-Institut, Frankfurt. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies 8 (3): 227–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  63. Plänkers, Tomas, and John Hart. 2014. Landscapes of the Chinese Soul: The Enduring Presence of the Cultural Revolution. London: Karnac Books.Google Scholar

  64. Qi, Zhenhai. 1983. Propagate and Build a Spiritual Civilization. Chinese Education & Society 16 (1): 115–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  65. Schubert, Gunter. 2008. One-Party Rule and the Question of Legitimacy in Contemporary China: Preliminary Thoughts on Setting up a New Research Agenda. Journal of Contemporary China 17 (54): 191–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  66. Scott, James C. 1999. Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

  67. Shambaugh, David. 2008. China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

  68. Shambaugh, David. 2015. ‘The Coming Chinese Crackup’, Wall Street Journal, 6 March, available at http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-coming-chinese-crack-up-1425659198. Accessed 6 Dec, 2017.

  69. Shaw, Victor N. 1996. Social Control in China: A Study of Chinese Work Units. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar

  70. Shen, Xingpei, and Yu. Jiang. 2012. ‘Chuyi dangdai xiaoshuo jianzheng xushi - yi ‘Wenge’ ticai xiaoshuo wei duixiang de yanjiu’ [‘A Brief Discussion on Witness Narrative Tradition of Contemporary Fiction’]. Journal of Fujian Normal University 3: 75–81.Google Scholar

  71. Skey, Michael. 2010. “A Sense of Where You Belong in the World”: National Belonging, Ontological Security and the Status of the Ethnic Majority in England. Nations and Nationalism 16 (4): 715–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  72. Steele, Brent J. 2008. Ontological Security in International Relations: Self-Identity and the IR State. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  73. Su, Yang. 2011. Collective Killings in Rural China during the Cultural Revolution. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  74. Thaxton, Ralph. 2008. Catastrophe and Contention in Rural China: Mao’s Great Leap Forward Famine and the Origins of Righteous Resistance in Da Fo Village. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  75. Tsai, Kellee S. 2007. Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China, 1st ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar

  76. Tsai, Wen-Hsuan, and Chien-Wen Kou. 2015. The Party’s Disciples: CCP Reserve Cadres and the Perpetuation of a Resilient Authoritarian Regime. China Quarterly 221 (March): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  77. Ulfelder, Jay. 2011. ‘Crystal Clear: Yes, Rows of Numbers Can Help Predict Revolutions. You Just Have to Know Where to Look’, Foreign Policy, 22 June, available at https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/06/22/crystal-clear/. Accessed 6 Dec, 2017.

  78. Vickers, Edward. 2009. Selling “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”: “Thought and Politics” and the Legitimisation of China’s Developmental Strategy. International Journal of Educational Development, Education and Development in Contemporary China 29 (5): 523–531.Google Scholar

  79. Wang, Zheng. 2008. National Humiliation, History Education, and the Politics of Historical Memory: Patriotic Education Campaign in China. International Studies Quarterly 52 (4): 783–806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  80. Wang, Zhengxu, and Anastas Vangeli. 2016. The Rules and Norms of Leadership Succession in China: From Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping and Beyond. China Journal 76 (May): 24–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  81. Wang, Zhengxu, and Jinghan Zeng. 2016. Xi Jinping: The Game Changer of Chinese Elite Politics? Contemporary Politics 22 (4): 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  82. Weatherley, Robert D., and Ariane Rosen. 2013. Fanning the Flames of Popular Nationalism: The Debate in China over the Burning of the Old Summer Palace. Asian Perspective 37 (1): 53–76.Google Scholar

  83. Yu, Wei-Hsin. 2008. Psychological Cost of Market Transition: Mental Health Disparities in Reform-Era China. Social Problems 55: 347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  84. Zang, Xiaowei. 1999. The Consolidation of Political Technocracy in China: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Central Committees of the CCP. Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 15 (3): 101–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  85. Zarakol, Ayşe. 2010. Ontological (In)security and State Denial of Historical Crimes: Turkey and Japan. International Relations 24 (1): 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  86. Zaretsky, Eli. 2002. Trauma and Dereification: September 11 and the Problem of Ontological Security. Constellations 9 (1): 98–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  87. Zhang, Weiwei. 2012. The China Wave: Rise of a Civilizational State. Hackensack: World Century Publishing Corporation.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  88. Zhao, Suisheng. 1998. A State-Led Nationalism: The Patriotic Education Campaign in Post-Tiananmen China. Communist and Post-Communist Studies 31 (3): 287–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  89. Zhao, Xin, and Russell W. Belk. 2008. Politicizing Consumer Culture: Advertising’s Appropriation of Political Ideology in China’s Social Transition. Journal of Consumer Research 35 (2): 231–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

  90. Zheng, Yongnian. 1999. Discovering Chinese Nationalism in China: Modernization, Identity, and International Relations. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  91. Zheng, Yongnian. 2009. The Chinese Communist Party as Organizational Emperor: Culture, Reproduction, and Transformation. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar

  92. Zhu, Zhichang. 2007. Reform without a Theory: Why Does It Work in China? Organization Studies 28 (10): 1503–1522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar