Big Noise, Big Settlement: the Logic of Claims-making in China

Memo #308

By Sophia Woodman – Sophia.Woodman [at] ed.ac.uk

Woodman_photo

The twenty-fifth anniversary of China’s nationwide democracy movement and its suppression in June 1989 was marked in the mainland by an imposed silence. Revisiting the “verdict” that the demonstrations were a “counterrevolutionary rebellion” does not appear to be on the horizon.

But this does not mean… Continue reading

Are Chinese Citizens becoming more Assertive? Perspectives from the (Limited) Data

Memo #307

By Sophia Woodman – Sophia.Woodman [at] ed.ac.uk

Woodman_photoThe last decade has seen an explosion of academic and media reporting about protests in China. Chinese citizens’ access to social media makes it harder for the authorities to suppress information about unrest. Even when mainstream media reporting is censored, often the news of an event has already made… Continue reading

Suicide Protesters in Eastern Tibet: The Shifting Story of a People’s Tragedy

Memo #302

By Antonio Terrone – a-terrone [at] northwestern.edu

Terrone_photoThe recent wave of self-immolations across the Eastern Tibetan regions of the People’s Republic of China continues to leave the world in dismay for both its violence and determination. They also represent a new shift in terms of the demography of protesters in Tibetan society. Among the 131 immolators… Continue reading

Security or Nationalism? Making Sense of Tibetan Resistance against China

Memo #247

By Tsering Topgyal – t.topgyal [at] bham.ac.uk

Scholarship on the Sino-Tibetan conflict maintains a primarily binary representation of the Chinese as security-driven and the Tibetans as ethno-nationalistic. In reality, for Tibetans it is the sense of identity security or insecurity (that is, the relative prospects for the survival and reproduction of their identity) that informs and explains… Continue reading

China’s Turn Against Law Fuels Rising Social Unrest

Memo #246

By Carl Minzner – cminzner [at] law.fordham.edu

Over the past decade, central Chinese leaders have changed course with regard to legal reforms they had pursued in the late twentieth century. This has eroded earlier state progress towards improving citizens’ access to justice, a reality that is fanning the flames of social unrest.

Over the… Continue reading

The Politics of Mining in Mongolia and Burma/Myanmar

Protests against mining projects reveal contrasts in the political impact of resource extraction in Mongolia, an established 23 year-old democracy, and Burma/Myanmar, a liberalizing authoritarian state. Two similarities are apparent in the domestic tensions surrounding Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi and Burma’s Letpadaung copper mines: both governments and populations are keen to balance Chinese influence in their economies; and both struggle to balance development goals with local grievances. Yet, the differing role of the countries’ politicians means that the protests have different outcomes. Continue reading

Collective Protests in China and India: Unexpected Similarity?

Collective protests against corruption and land grabs are widespread in both China and India. The official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reported that the government spent $110 billion on containing these and related popular protests in 2011, more than the defense budget. Many argue that disruptive protests erupt because there are no effective institutional channels, such as the judiciary, for expressing grievances in China. However, in neighboring India, the world’s biggest democracy where such channels do exist, people similarly express their discontent through disruptive protests. Though not yet systematically counted, disruptions, both violent and non-violent, are an essential characteristic of Indian democracy. Continue reading

China: Two Faces of Social Protest

Memo #183 – There was a dramatic rise of social protests in China in the 1990s. Since, popular contention has become a main form of interest articulation for social groups that suffered as a result of reform era government policies. While the accommodation of social protests has contributed to authoritarian resilience in China, it has also exposed fundamental weaknesses in the Chinese political system. Continue reading

Explosive Fuel Politics in Indonesia

Memo #146 – Indonesian cities have recently witnessed a wave of protests as citizens voiced complaints against a planned fuel price hike. On March 30, 2012, students in Jakarta stormed the legislature and clashed with police. Legislators have carefully adjusted their positions to distance themselves from the hated fuel price hike. Continue reading