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Local Economic Development and Transformations of the Political Discourse and Practices in China: Case Analyses from the Zhejiang Region from the 1980s

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image of European Journal of East Asian Studies

While China has recently taken an amazing economic leap, completely transforming and liberalising its economic system, the absolute domination of the Communist party, operating in an extremely organised and centralised system and without free general elections, is the opposite of the models advocated by Western nations and remains a stumbling block for a number of Westerners.This governance from the top seems to exclude forms of expression and practices at the grassroots, but can this first reading explain the practical reality of Chinese politics?This paper looks into the links between the economic regeneration and the political transformations of two cities in Zhejiang. Studying the incredible advances of these two cities over 30 years reveals that their development was based not only on economic factors but also on a broad continuous movement of political and local reorganisation from the bottom up, promoting a new social and political dynamism, first locally then provincewide: a huge and profound change developed in a very specific way.Is this a premonitory model or announcement of the specifically Chinese methods of incorporating economic and political changes coming from the grassroots, which still affect certain sectors of the social and political spheres of Chinese society?

Affiliations: 1: Centre Max Weber-CNRS, Université de Lyon; 2: Institut d'Asie Orientale, Université de Lyon


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