China’s Domestic Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping – an Assessment of the First Five Years
Xi Jinping is supposedly the strongest Chinese President since Mao Zedong; a charismatic leader whose hype is underpinned by his far-reaching institutional reforms in fields such diverse as anti-corruption, economy or thought work; a power seeker who has more institutional backing than any other president in recent history with a vision of a Chinese Dream that has enraptured Chinese politics and society. Xi addressed grievances present in society and party such as the wide-spread use of corruption and exclusive economic development. Internationally, he pushed for the further use of the “Theory of Peaceful Development”; a paradigm of thought that is free of hegemonism and power politics and instead prioritizes win-win cooperation, mutual benefit and a multipolar world order more inclusive to non-Western voices.
Yet Xi’s undeniable strong record remains contested at the same time. Social control has become stronger than Chinese of younger generations remember it to have ever been. Domestic NGO work has become all but impossible in some areas; the work of human rights lawyers or labor activists has not been as troublesome in decades. A more outspoken media and civic freedoms are once again in retreat and under threat. The internet is increasingly censored and under supervision. National security is now tied inextricably to ideology and culture. Under Xi, China made negative headlines with its treatment of Liu Xiaobo or a number of kidnappings of people speaking inconvenient truths or acting outside of party line – for example (among others) Gui Minhai and Xiao Jianhua. New party cells are being set-up at foreign universities world-wide; Chinese foreign media is firmly established in different countries all over the world. The Chinese and international academic community is feeling an attempt to influence academic discourse.
Domestically, institutional reforms have shaken up long-held truths of the foreign scholarly community. Term limits for the president have been abolished, decision-making processes have been centralized and the anti-corruption campaign has been institutionalized. The huji (hukou) system has seen its biggest reform in years as have property rights. State organizations have seen a decrease in power relative to party organs. China, somewhat paradoxically, managed to both strengthen autocratic and meritocratic institutional structures in the past years. Yet, China has also not appeared to be teetering this close to the edge between evolutionary or revolutionary change.
The Mapping China Journal No. 2 in 2018 on “China’s Domestic Politics in the Era of Xi Jinping – an Assessment of the First Five Years” therefore invites research papers with a length of 6000 to 8000 words and essays with length between 1500 to 3000 words. All contributions should focus on new developments and challenges of the Xi Jinping era from 2013 onwards. Papers should address institutional or personnel changes, far-reaching reform policies or civil society perspectives on latest developments in Greater China. Papers discussing Xi Jinping themselves are also welcome. Domestic perspectives on China’s foreign policy changes or developments can also be featured. Topics could include but are not limited to:
New forms of civic governance (e.g. social credit system, digitalization)
Internal and external propaganda work
Institutional changes (e.g. term limits, central-local divide, centralization of decision-making processes, new party organs)
Developments in the domestic NGO sector / citizens’ rights including LGBTQ* censorships/ gender equality (e.g. #metoo)
Changes in domestic values and norms (e.g. rise of nationalism, “theory of peaceful development”, China Dream, the two centenary goals)
Questions of legitimacy of an increasingly strong party
Developments in Hong Kong and Taiwan in response to growing influencing of domestic politics by the mainland
This Call for Papers is explicitly aimed at those Bachelor and Master students (and all interested PhD students in their early stages of their dissertation) with an interdisciplinary background in Area Studies, Political and Social Science or in International Relations who have been working on or want to work on China and who are looking to publish their first research for a wider audience. Exceptional essays and research papers will be published in the second edition of the Mapping China Journal which will be published in November 2018. Papers in both English and German will be accepted.
Interested authors are invited to submit a proposal in English or German (one page or 500 words) of their paper to the organizers at Mapping China (firstname.lastname@example.org) until 15 May 2018. Proposals can also be submitted via https://mappingchina.org/submissions/. The peer review process of the Mapping China Journal requires at least two rounds of revisions done by the authors. For further information, authors should refer to the journal submission guidelines, the ethics statement and the citation guide before handing in any work. Proposals need to indicate if a research paper or essay will be handed in.
We are looking forward to your submissions!
Board of Directors
Mapping China e.V.