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31. Editorial
  • Author: Karsten Griese
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This issue of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs presents two important topics. The first part of the issue reflects some strands of a recurring debate within the area of social science research on China. The conditions under which research in the People's Republic of China can be conducted, primarily in cooperation with Chinese academic institutions, have been a meta-topic for critical discussions within the scientific community. Researchers must be aware of these conditions, and the limitations but also the opportunities that are inherent to this system, which officially requires every foreign scholar to cooperate with an official Chinese partner when conducting research in China. A number of issues – including the integration of Chinese research institutions with government bodies an d administrations, the widespread self-conception of Chinese colleagues as policy consultants, and the political agendas involved in many research interests – have caused some non-Chinese academics to refrain from collaborative research altogether. Other researchers have been accused by the mass media in their home countries for being biased and acting as propaganda tool for the PRC government for producing research results that have not replicated longstanding media prejudice.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Sascha Klotzbücher
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: It would be naïve to pretend that politics and the actual needs of governance do not play a role in social sciences in any part of the world. However, the political dismissal of faculty members in Chinese universities, along with other political interventions reported in recent Western media, reveals the outspoken trend toward scientific professionalisation and scientific autonomy in a different light.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Heike Holbig
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: For more than two decades, the National Planning Office for Philosophy and Social Sciences (NPOPSS) has been managing official funding of social science research in China under the orbit of the Communist Party of China's (C PC) propaganda system. By focusing on "Major Projects", the most prestigious and well-funded program initiated by the NPOPSS in 2004, this contribution outlines the political and institutional ramifications of this line of official funding and attempts to identify larger shifts during the past decade in the "ideologics" of official social science research funding – the changing ideological circumscriptions of research agendas in the more narrow sense of echoing party theory and rhetoric and – in the broader sense – of adapting to an increasingly dominant official discourse of cultural and national self-assertion. To conclude, this article offers reflections on the potential repercussions of these shifts for international academic collaboration.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Doris Fischer
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Over the past three decades, China's fast economic development has induced considerable changes in China's university and research institution landscape, research financing and academic career incentives. This paper argues that these changes have affected the motivation and the ways in which Chinese scholars engage in international research cooperation. Most recently it has been observed that strong pressures on scholars and scientists – especially at leading academic institutions – to excel in international publications while simultaneously fulfilling their obligation to generate income for their institutions can lead to a dilemma with regard to international research cooperation: Those institutions and scholars most interesting for foreign scholars to cooperate with may be the ones with the least amount of both incentive and time to enter into serious cooperation. This article invites us to reflect on the implications of these changes in the incentive structure for cooperation in social science research on China.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Josef Gregory Mahoney
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper discusses how cooperation between Chinese researchers and their foreign counterparts has changed. The paper draws on current literature and the author's experience as a researcher in the US and in China, arguing that while cooperation has increased overall, it has done so in ways that have crowded out old forms of cooperation or made them passé. The paper focuses particularly on how changes at leading Chinese research institutions have impacted international cooperation, both positively and negatively, and suggests ways in which foreign scholars might effectively pursue new avenues for cooperation and exchange.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Christian Gobel
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Field research in China often requires the researcher to cooperate with two kinds of actors: research collaborators, such as those at universities or official think tanks, and local officials. These actors facilitate or enhance field access, but such access comes at the price of a potential "pre-selection bias" in data collection. Some scholars have argued that dependence on these "gatekeepers" introduces a significant bias into research outcomes. I argue, however, that the constraints faced by China scholars in their field studies are not absolute, but function by degree. The CCP is monolithic neither in its organization nor in the thoughts of its agents, and close collaboration with local partners can help remove normative bias rather than necessarily introducing it. Most importantly, an argument built exclusively on the power of structural constraints discounts China scholars' most crucial abilities: to learn, to think critically and to research holistically.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Ya-ning Kao
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines two cases of Zhuang religious revival involving multiple actors. It shows how consideration of "superstition" (迷信, mixin) places some religious practice outside the institutional framework when discussing the modern concept of religion in China. In this paper, I particularly focus on two main dimensions of religious revival among the Zhuang people. The first is a grassroots dimension that involves the revival of a so-called "superstitious" cult in which Zhuang people along the Sino-Vietnamese border carry out shamanic rituals to make offerings to a powerful chief-turned-deity, Nong Zhigao, and his wife. The second dimension is a top-down dynamic and involves a series of projects conducted by Zhuang officials, scholars and business persons, which aim to standardize a Zhuang religion, known as Mo religion. These two cases of religious revival demonstrate the varied strategies utilized by different actors in response to government policies regarding religion in China.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Martin Saxel
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The relation between ethnicity and religion has had a troubled history in the People's Republic of China. Conflating religious practice with ethnic culture is considered to carry the risk of breeding "splittism" – especially in Tibet and Xinjiang. While in the post-Mao era the outright hostility against religion has given way to a religious revival, keeping religion and (nationality) politics separate has remained a major concern for the Chinese Communist Party. Religion is supposed to be a private matter that does not interfere with politics. Against this backdrop, a recent phenomenon in the Tibet Autonomous Region is all the more remarkable: the (re-)fusion of ethnicity and religion under the label of cultural heritage and its protection. This paper approaches this officially endorsed re-fusion ethno-graphically and examines its wider implications. I argue that endorsing religion as an attribute of Tibetan heritage corresponds to the concept of defining public spaces and events in which religious practice is legitimate and expected. Simultaneously, religious practices outside these dedicated spaces and events become even more problematic, leading to everyday Buddhist practices, such as circumambulation, being seen as (and performed as) political acts.
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Sandra Heep
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of China's increasingly influential role in global finance and the debate on the emergence of a “Beijing Consensus,” this paper examines whether the ideology that China promotes in the Bretton Woods institutions is conducive to the initiation of financial policy change at the international level. Drawing on Barnett and Duvall's (2005) conceptualization of productive power, Snow and Benford's (1988) framing theory and Freeden's (1996) understanding of ideology, the paper develops a theoretical framework for the analysis of international policy framing. Following an overview of China's rise in global finance, it identifies the core elements of the ideology that has been promoted by Chinese government officials in the Bretton Woods institutions since the onset of the global financial crisis. The paper argues that China's ruling elites will only be able to initiate a shift in the global consensus on acceptable financial policies if the frames that they propagate succeed in striking a balance between ideological continuity and change.
  • Topic: Communism, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Israel
  • Author: Patrick Köllner
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Analyses of the shape and functioning of systems of political rule need to address informal institutions, which exist alongside and can relate to formal institutions in various ways. In this paper, I first discuss some analytical foundations of the study of such institutions. I then suggest that a focus on political regimes – understood as the configuration of formal and informal institutions shaping and reflecting the access to and the exercise of political power – can be particularly useful for analysing the shape and functioning of autocracies. Finally, I use such a regime focus to study the Chinese Communist Party and its leadership succession process, which is characterised by increasing institutionalisation and complementary as well as substitutive relations between formal and informal institutions.
  • Topic: Communism, Political Economy, Political Theory, Governance
  • Political Geography: China, Israel