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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

April 20, 2006

Written by C.N.

Citizen Power in China

Everybody should know by now that despite its historical legacy and rhetoric, China is not a true communist society — it’s a society controlled by a totalitarian regime. However, as China slowly lurches forward into the 21st century, it is inevitably beginning to confront the first instances of citizen power and grassroots democracy:

Ms. Liu’s experience, all but unimaginable as recently as two or three years ago, is increasingly common in China, where a once totalitarian system is facing growing pressure from a population that is awakening to the power of independent organization.

Uncounted millions of Chinese, from the rich cities of the east to the impoverished countryside, are pushing an inflexible political system for redress over issues from shoddy health care and illegal land seizures to dire pollution and rampant official corruption. . . .

China’s leaders seem to be of two minds in confronting the trend. Predictably enough, many warn of the dangers an independent civil society poses to the authority of the state. But there are others who now recognize, however tentatively, that the government cannot deal effectively with every issue without contributions from advocates, civic organizations and intellectuals.

On the one hand, it is truly sad and rather pathetic to see a government that was supposed formed to advocate the needs and issues of the working class and the poor in the past, instead take such violently punitive actions to repress these same groups of people today. On the other hand, it is encouraging to see that ordinary citizens are increasingly becoming confident in their powers and not being intimidated by the government.

How ironic that ordinary Chinese citizens have to take it upon themselves to demonstrate to the communist government what people power and civic advocacy really looks like.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Citizen Power in China" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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