Papers on Domestic Politics I

Grassroots
Thursday
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room 3

  • Chi Shing Lee, “The Undercurrent in the Cold War Asia: The Dissident Left Wing, the Chinese Trotskyism, and Hong Kong as the Revolutionary Hub”
  • Yue Guan, “Petitioning Beijing without the Support of Central Policies: The Forgotten High Tide of 1978–1982”
  • Xingxing Wang, “Impact of Media Exposure on National Identity of Hong Kong Youth”
  • Olga Adams, “‘Corruption Close to People’: Fighting Malfeasance at the Grassroots Level”

Chi Shing Lee, “The Undercurrent in the Cold War Asia: The Dissident Left Wing, the Chinese Trotskyism, and Hong Kong as the Revolutionary Hub”

Taking the political thoughts of Chinese Trotskyists in Hong Kong from 1946 to 1969 as the case, this chapter aims to introduce the role of the dissident leftwing in constructing the Asian experiences of Cold War. Existing literature on the Cold War in Asia only devotes to scratching its surface: the Asia experiences of the ideological-political antagonism between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Trotskyism as an ideological force functioning along the Cold War has often been dismissed. Using both primary and secondary sources in Chinese and English, including historiographies of Trotskyism in China, biographies of Chinese Trotskyists, and the publications of Chinese Trotskyist parties, this article argues that the Chinese Trotskyism in Hong Kong was subject but not submitted to the binary setting in the Cold War. After its arrival in Hong Kong, the Chinese Trotskyism faced a wave of repression imposed by the Chinese Communist Party and the British colonial government, being labelled as both leftist and rightist. Under the duress, the Chinese Trotskyists still took this colonial place as a revolutionary hub to realise its prospect of establishing a new China which counters with both capitalist and communist bureaucracies in the Cold War setting. The Chinese Trotskyists, through their nationalist but also internationalist discourses, left the leftwing legacy that changed the political culture of the Cold War Hong Kong in the following decades. By arguing so, this article offers, firstly, a corrective to the over-determination of the Asian experiences of the Cold War in terms of the oppositional forces, that is, capitalism and communism, and secondly, a new perspective from which the relations between China and Hong Kong are reinterpreted.

Yue Guan, “Petitioning Beijing without the Support of Central Policies: The Forgotten High Tide of 1978–1982”

Protesters and petitioners in contemporary China mostly target local cadres’ dishonest implementation of the central authorities’ beneficial policies. Some scholars characterise such contention as rule-based and regime-undergirding. Others argue instead that their trust in the central authorities is dynamic and, at times, calculated. Even though they allege to abide by central policies, their contention is grounded on a heightened rights consciousness and can be inherently regime-challenging. The debate discussed here, however, rests on the empirics when central policies are in place. Fresh insights can be gained by looking at popular contention right after the Cultural Revolution, a period in which they were often absent or vague.
Drawing on gazetteers and interviews, this project proposes to examine the forgotten high tide of petitioning Beijing between 1978 and 1982. Preliminary evidence shows that first, more than one million petitioners sent letters or paid visits to Beijing even though at that time central policies were generally lacking. Their claims were therefore not based on established policies but were nevertheless rightful. Second, rather than reporting the inappropriate implementation of appropriate policies, petitioners offered the central authorities crucial information for policymaking and remaking.
In so doing, this project lends a historical lens to the rights-rule debate in the study of Chinese politics and has implications for understanding how rights claims can bring forth rule formulation in an under-institutionalised autocracy.

Xingxing Wang, “Impact of Media Exposure on National Identity of Hong Kong Youth”

Since mid-2019, the most serious and continuing anti-government social movement has broken out in Hong Kong since its return to China, in which the young people have once again been the main force. Then the national identity of Hong Kong youth has been more concerned. This study, given the diverse media environment in Hong Kong and its important role in social movements, focuses on the impact of the media on the national identity of young people.
This study is based on a questionnaire survey of senior high school students in Hong Kong in 2018. Through the analysis of 1279 valid questionnaires, and from the news, entertainment, shopping and other aspects of media information exposure, to analyse the relationship between them and teenagers’ national identity. Through correlation and regression analysis, this study analyses the relationship between Hong Kong youth national identity and different types of media exposure, including (1) news media with different political positions; (2) mainland entertainment media; (3) mainland online shopping media. In addition, this study also examines teenagers’ understanding of the elements in the identity of “Hongkonger.”
In addition to the news, this study explores the influence of more types of media, which is expected to further reveal the impact of Hong Kong media on the national identity of young people and provide some inspiration for the media strategy to promote the integration of China and Hong Kong. Besides that, it will also provide more support and enlightenment to the related theories of the impact of youth media contact.

Olga Adams, “‘Corruption Close to People’: Fighting Malfeasance at the Grassroots Level

Fighting corruption among lower-level party and state officials constitutes an integral part of Xi Jinping’s all-encompassing anti-corruption campaign (notorious ‘flies’), however, this side usually receives fewer media and scholarly attention as compared to ensnaring high-positioned ‘tigers.’
Analysing PRC control organs’ grassroots level work demonstrates that visits by ‘central inspection teams’ (they may be dispatched by authorities starting at the provincial level) remain tried-and-true tactics—inspectors use a variety of ways to assess a situation: interviewing officials and private citizens (also reviewing their written petitions), access documents, etc. Depending on preliminary results, higher-level control organs may send another group for a ‘target strike’ or ‘surprise revisit’. Inspections are carried out in geographic locales all over the country. They also may be industry-specific or aimed at local judiciaries, administrative personnel of various government departments, etc. One important area is land management bureaus whose work is often subject to complaints.
The goal for preventative work is to eliminate officials’ behaviour that cannot be legally defined as corruption but precipitates it, also causing ‘grievances among people’ and bringing ‘backward practices back to life.’ Suzhi (character) education is key—in line with ‘being faithful to the original goal and always remembering the mission,’ party members and civil servants must resist ‘the eight grave moral conditions’ that bring down officials and are detrimental to the country. Local experience in that area varies and is being closely monitored.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room 3
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Grassroots