Handbook of Protest and Resistance in China
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Handbook of Protest and Resistance in China

Edited by Teresa Wright

Featuring contributions from top scholars and emerging stars in the field, the Handbook of Protest and Resistance in China captures the complexity of protest and dissent in contemporary China, while simultaneously exploring a number of unifying themes. Examining how, when, and why individuals and groups have engaged in contentious acts, and how the targets of their complaints have responded, the volume sheds light on the stability of China’s existing political system, and its likely future trajectory.
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Chapter 11: Collective petition and local state responses in rural China

Lei Guang and Yang Su

Abstract

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.

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