Edited by Susan Trevaskes, Elisa Nesossi, Flora Sapio and Sarah Biddulph
Chapter 9: Stability and anticorruption initiatives: is there a Chinese model?
China is a highly corrupt state. The people’s responses to corruption, as expressions of opposition or anger, are a real source of instability. Government responses to corruption are therefore also partly responses to this discontent – moves to prevent resistance action by the public to guard social stability. In considering state moves to create and maintain stability in Chinese society, it is therefore useful to consider the state’s approach to addressing corruption. Despite its entrenchment, corruption has not undermined China’s economy and social stability, or the political legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party. Corruption inches in, and the Party fights back. Corruption and anticorruption efforts have reached a stalemate (Wedeman 2012). One conventional explanation of China’s ability to manage the impact of corruption is China’s ‘authoritarian resilience’ (Nathan 2003). This term has gained currency and in different guises such as ‘Beijing Consensus’ or ‘China model’ has become a mainstream explanation of China’s economic growth and political sustainability (Kennedy 2011, Zhao 2011). By that theory, China’s authoritarianism is resilient because the Party is able to adapt to new circumstances without changing the political structure. While significant changes have taken place at ideological, institutional and operational levels, through innovation and adaptation the Party is able to face the challenges that China’s rapid social and economic transitions have posed (Shambaugh 2008). The concept of the China model (Zhongguo moshi) has crept into Party thinking and become a catchword to highlight China’s social and economic achievement.
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