Edited by Susan Trevaskes, Elisa Nesossi, Flora Sapio and Sarah Biddulph
Social stability is a top national concern of Chinese authorities. Law is essential to achieving and maintaining stability, in the understanding of these authorities and in practice. This volume therefore explores the place of law in judicial and government activism around managing social instability in China today. In official circles, social stability is understood as the political and social security that accompanies orderly, conflict-free social relations. Instability is manifest in what the Communist Party-state deems unharmonious relations within communities and between individuals and the state, brought about by crime, dispute and protest. Disparity in income distribution, the underdeveloped welfare system and weak governance oversight mechanisms in local areas are the root causes of festering social unrest that has swept the nation for at least the last 15 years. Well over 100,000 collective protests annually make stability a major political preoccupation. How local courts and governments marshal the forces of law to deter and punish crime, resolve disputes and manage protest has become a central socio-political concern for China’s governing authorities. Social stability has become a defining socio-political goal because the Party-state sees social disorder as a threat to future prospects for economic growth, hence to its own future. The studies in this volume observe interactions between law and the stability imperative and how politics figures in these interactions.