Constructing a United Front: The Local People's Political Consultative Conference in Post-Mao Chinese Politics

Feb 24 12:00–1:30pm
Common Room, 2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge

Yan Xiaojun (Associate Professor of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair/Discussant: Grzegorz Ekiert (Professor of Government, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

How do we explain regime stability in a rapidly rising China?  While scholars today deem political institutions essential for answering this question, our understanding of an important yet unique Chinese political institution—the People's Political Consultative Conference (PPCC)—has remained significantly inadequate. In this talk, Yan Xiaojun attempts to fill in this gap, surveying the functional and political role of the PPCC in Chinese politics. Exploring original texts recording the daily operations of a county-level PPCC over two decades, Yan Xiaojun demonstrates that the PPCC—a pivotal inclusive regime institution—plays a far more important role in upholding the political regime than previously thought. Through conducting ideological indoctrination, dispensing preferential treatment, facilitating controlled political participation and maintaining constant contact with non-Communist elites and other societal leaders, the PPCC provides the state with an important platform for co-opting potentially threatening social forces, a forum for policy bargaining, a channel for monitoring various social sectors and a mechanism for offering material benefits to the regime's most loyal and trustworthy collaborators. The state also uses this consultative body as an instrument to garner feedback from society and build good governance.