Handbook on Urban Development in China
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Handbook on Urban Development in China

Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson

The trajectory and logic of urban development in post-Mao China have been shaped and defined by the contention between domestic and global capital, central and local state and social actors of different class status and endowment. This urban transformation process of historic proportion entails new rules for distribution and negotiation, novel perceptions of citizenship, as well as room for unprecedented spontaneity and creativity. Based on original research by leading experts, this book offers an updated and nuanced analysis of the new logic of urban governance and its implications.
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Chapter 23: Interests and political participation in urban China: the case of residents’committee elections

Bing Guan and Yongshun Cai


Authoritarian governments carry out elections to gain legitimacy. However, people in these regimes usually lack confidence in the managed elections and are reluctant to participate. Therefore, state mobilization is necessary for these elections to be implemented. Yet, people in such regimes may participate in the elections without state mobilization. In urban China, some homeowners have actively participated in elections for residents’ committee, although they do not interact directly with the committee. This chapter, which is based on fieldwork in about 20 communities in Beijing, analyses the reasons for such participation. Residents’ committee influences the formation of a homeowners’ committee, which is the only legal representative of homeowners in a community. To protect their rights, homeowners are required at least to create a neutral residents’ committee to establish a functional homeowners’ committee. Consequently, the homeowners’ stake in their community motivates them to participate in the election. This interest-driven participation has important implications for understanding political participation in China.

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