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Lei Guang and Yang Su

China has experienced a dramatic increase in citizen protests and civil unrest in the past two decades. As aggrieved citizens grow more assertive in their demands, government officials increasingly worry about social instability. Stability maintenance has become an obsession of the Chinese state, a focal point of attention for its political-legal apparatus—namely the Party committee, the police, the courts and China’s unique petition system. Previous research has shown that Chinese citizens adopt a variety of forms of protest, from everyday forms of resistance (e.g. foot-dragging, work stoppage, etc.), to moral economy remonstrations (e.g. pressing for livelihood relief by appealing to traditional and socialist values), to rightful resistance (e.g. protest by appealing to official ideologies and policies). They lodge complaints at every level of the Chinese government, frequently skipping levels to appeal to higher authorities with jurisdiction over their cases. They adopt tactics that cover a wide gamut of action types, including rallies, strikes, sit-ins, road blocking, gate crashing and street violence, administrative litigation, and individual and collective petitions.