Local Economic Development and Transformations of the Political Discourse and Practices in China: Case Analyses from the Zhejiang Region from the Eighties

Abstract : While it is acknowledged that in recent years China has taken an amazingly huge economic leap, completely transforming and liberalizing its economic system, its model of political organisation and absence of democracy remain a stumbling block for a number of westerners. The absolute domination of the Communist party, operating in an extremely organised and centralised system and without free general elections is the opposite of the models advocated by western nations. This governance from the top thus seems to exclude forms of expression and practices at the grass roots: it would even appear to be its complete opposite. But it is far from clear that this first reading can explain with any exactitude the practical reality of Chinese politics and its changes. This paper looks into the links between the economic regeneration and the political transformations of two cities in Zhejiang: Yongkang and Yiwu. Studying the incredible advances of these two cities over a period of 30 years, it is quite astonishing to discover that the huge development observed there was due not only to economic factors, but based also on a broad continuous movement of political and local reorganisation from the bottom up, promoting a new social and political dynamism, first locally then gradually province-wide: re-legitimisation of the social 'intermediary bodies', construction of new social agreements, building of new political compromises using slogans to set up new practices of economic and social innovation and new forms of governance. A huge and profound change developed in a very specific way. Is this a premonitory model or announcement of the specifically Chinese methods of incorporating economic and political changes coming from the grass roots, which, still today affect certain sectors of the social and political spheres of Chinese society?
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Submitted on : Monday, March 10, 2014 - 9:44:08 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00957709, version 1

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Lu Shi, Bernard Ganne. Local Economic Development and Transformations of the Political Discourse and Practices in China: Case Analyses from the Zhejiang Region from the Eighties. European Journal of East Asian Studies, Brill Academic Publishers, 2011, pp.203-226. ⟨halshs-00957709⟩

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