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26-03-2020 | Research Article | Issue 3/2020

Journal of Chinese Political Science 3/2020

Engineering Representation in A Single-Party Regime: A Mobilizational Model of Political Representation in China’s Local Congresses

Journal:
Journal of Chinese Political Science > Issue 3/2020
Author:
Zhongyuan Wang

Abstract

Can authoritarian regimes provide meaningful representation to their citizens? Political representation has been primarily considered and discussed in liberal-democratic settings. However, why do authoritarian rulers care about representation? How can authoritarian rulers engender representation in their relationship with the ruled? China presents an ideal case to examine these questions in light of the party regime’s strong claims to represent its people and the recent reforms in utilizing mobilizational means to generate representation. Drawing on first-hand data collected from thirteen fieldwork sites across eastern, middle and western regions of China, this article outlines a mobilizational model of political representation under non-liberal environments by unpacking the dynamics, process, and logic of congressional representation in China. The findings of this article suggest that the Chinese party regime is strongly motivated to employ mobilizational means to engineer congress representation in the context of declining use of electoral accountability. Although it still meets with shortcomings and challenges, the mass-line mobilizational pattern of representation is instrumentalized by the ruling party for regime-sustaining purposes, therefore creating the potential for a form of representative authoritarianism to emerge in China.

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