How can protests influence policymaking in a repressive dictatorship? Responsive Authoritarianism in China sheds light on this important question through case studies of land takings and demolitions - two of the most explosive issues in contemporary China. In the early 2000s, landless farmers and evictees unleashed waves of disruptive protests. Surprisingly, the Chinese government responded by adopting wide-ranging policy changes that addressed many of the protesters' grievances. Heurlin traces policy changes from local protests in the provinces to the halls of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing. In doing so, he highlights the interplay between local protests, state institutions, and elite politics. He shows that the much-maligned petitioning system actually plays an important role in elevating protesters' concerns to the policymaking agenda. Delving deep into the policymaking process, the book illustrates how the State Council and NPC have become battlegrounds for conflicts between ministries and local governments over state policies.
Christopher Heurlin is an Assistant Professor in the Government and Legal Studies Department and Asian Studies Program at Bowdoin College, Maine. He earned a BA from Carleton College, Minnesota and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Washington. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and he has published articles in German Politics and VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.
1. Protest and policy outcomes under authoritarianism; 2. Land takings, demolitions, and a rising wave of protest signals; 3. Disruptive tactics and buying stability in local government responsiveness; 4. Social stability and the petitioning system's role in agenda setting; 5. Protest and the political mediation approach in provincial policy making; 6. The state council and the National People's Congress as veto players in the policy outcomes of protests; 7. Conclusion; Appendix 1. The LexisNexis data set; Appendix 2. The Zhejiang landless farmer survey; Appendix 3. Descriptive data on provincial adoption of social security policies.