Copenhagen ADI Conference 2016
8th annual international ADI conference
Asian Dynamics Initiative
University of Copenhagen 20-22 June 2016

Dynamics and drivers of change in Chinese politics

Conveners: Jørgen Delman, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies,
Camilla Tenna Nørup Sørensen, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Anna Ahlers, University of Oslo
Keynote: Christian Göbel, University Professor of Modern China Studies at the Dept. of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna

The Chinese political system is often cast as a fairly ossified authoritarian party-state system with the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the centre fighting to maintain its monopoly of power without conceding to pressure for political reform. However, some analysts also recognize that the CPC has maintained its legitimacy through its embrace of economic and social reforms. The CPC has been found to be both resilient as well as accommodating to national and international pressures and it has gradually become more consultative, adaptive and pro-active in relation to new types of political challenges and new governance regimes or arrangements at national and international levels.

Still, there is an apparent urge for change in Chinese politics. It is manifested from a top-down direction as pressure for reform initiatives and from a bottom up direction as interest promotion, social dissatisfaction and social unrest. There is also a constant debate on what defines the corridor for reform initiatives (central or local) between seemingly sacrosanct principles and institutions on the one hand and responsive flexibility on the other. To unfold these processes, there is a need to re-consider the concept of political reform in China by examining the drivers of change. Many questions have to be examined such as: which structures and institutions drive political change at national level? To what extent is political change driven by developments in the central-local fault lines? To what extent are social forces contributing to political change? Does the approach to reforms and social management of the party-state lead to political change by design or by default? To what extent is changing national politics driving China’s increasing international engagement and vice versa?

At the bottom of this is the question how we recognize, account for and measure political change. The panel is open to proposals that address these questions from either a national or an international politics perspective.