Chapter 11: Towards Public Service-oriented Governance? Administrative Reform with ‘Chinese Characteristics’
1 Mark Evans Confucius said, ‘To approach a task from the wrong end can lead to nothing but trouble.’ Confucius, The Analects 2.16. Traditions are important in Chinese public administration but getting the job done is more important. Senior member of the Chinese government, author interview, 7 June 2007. 11.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter has been written in the wake of a tumultuous year in Chinese history which has attracted exhaustive international media and political attention – the repression of the ongoing struggle for self-determination in Tibet which demonstrated the worst excesses of authoritarian statism, the appalling national tragedy of the earthquake in Sichuan and the coming of age of the Chinese state as host to the Olympic Games in Beijing. The latter two events revealed both the startling organizational prowess of Chinese government and the generosity of spirit of the Chinese people. They also expose the latest chapter in the emotional roller coaster ride that Chinese citizens have experienced in a period of rapid modernization from the national mourning for the victims of the earthquake in Southern China to their unrestrained national jubilation at the success of the Olympic Games in Beijing. The former British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan (1957–63), was once asked by a young journalist after a long dinner what can most easily steer a government off course, he answered ‘Events, dear boy. Events’. In short, politics is unpredictable and if a tipping point towards an accelerated process of democratization was to emerge in President Hu Jintao’s autumn...
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