China Experiments: From Local Innovations to National Reform

Brookings Institution Press
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All societies face a key question: how to empower governments to perform essential governmental functions while constraining the arbitrary exercise of power. This balance, always in flux, is particularly fluid in today's China. This insightful book examines the changing relationship between that state and its society, as demonstrated by numerous experiments in governance at subnational levels, and explores the implications for China's future political trajectory.

Ann Florini, Hairong Lai, and Yeling Tan set their analysis at the level of townships and counties, investigating the striking diversity of China's exploration into different governance tools and comparing these experiments with developments and debates elsewhere in the world. China Experiments draws on multiple cases of innovation to show how local authorities are breaking down traditional models of governance in responding to the challenges posed by the rapid transformations taking place across China's economy and society. The book thus differs from others on China that focus on dynamics taking place at the elite level in Beijing, and is unique in its broad but detailed, empirically grounded analysis.

The introduction examines China's changing governance architecture and raises key overarching questions. It addresses the motivations behind the wide variety of experiments underway by which authorities are trying to adapt local governance structures to meet new demands. Chapters 2–5 then explore each type of innovation in detail, from administrative streamlining and elections to partnerships in civil society and transparency measures. Each chapter explains the importance of the experiment in terms of implications for governance and draws upon specific case studies. The final chapter considers what these growing numbers of experiments add up to, whether China is headed towards a stronger more resilient authoritarianism or evolving towards its own version of democracy, and suggests a series of criteria by which China's political trajectory can be assessed.

Contents

1. China at a Crossroads

2. Streamlining the State

3. The Evolution of Voting Mechanisms

4. Civil Society

5. From Local Experiments to National Rules: China Lets the Sunshine In

6. Where is China Going?

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About the author

Ann Florini is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution and visiting professor of political science, School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University. Hairong Lai is the executive director of the China Center for Overseas Social and Philosophical Theories. Yeling Tan is a Ph.D. student in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Jan 6, 2012
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9780815722014
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / Local
Political Science / Comparative Politics
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / Public Affairs & Administration
Political Science / World / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In an era of rapid and extensive globalisation, the world faces a wide range of transboundary problems that require effective collective action. Key among these are threats to human health that do not recognise national borders, and include emerging and re-emerging infections, rising rates of chronic diseases, inadequate access to affordable and safe medicines, spreading anti-microbial resistance and the health effects of climate change. These threats require a transnational response and thus pose significant challenges to global health governance, as well as to long established notions of national sovereignty.

This book investigates the neglected question of the impact of a rising Asia on the management of transboundary health problems. The chapters examine the role played by Asia in the governance of a range of global health issues, from development assistance in health, to global health instruments dealing with tobacco control and disease outbreaks, to health research and knowledge products, and the book concludes by examining the broad themes of a rising Asia’s role in the complexity of global health governance. The various analyses are tied together by a common focus on Asian countries’ use of the sovereignty principle, and seek to understand how traditional notions of national sovereignty can both clash with, and enhance, governance objectives in global health. In addition, the contributors examine the interaction between global, regional and domestic institutions, and present current ideas in Asia on the challenge of governing global health.

With an inter-disciplinary approach that combines international relations, public policy and public health, this book will be invaluable to both scholars and policy makers working in these fields, as well as Asian politics, social policy and governance more generally.

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