Political Change in China? Public Participation and Local Governance Reforms

2255 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Monday, May 15, 2006 - 10:00am to 11:30am
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The Congressional-Executive Commission on China held another in its series of staff-led Issues Roundtables, entitled "Political Change in China? Public Participation and Local Governance Reforms" on Monday, May 15, from 10-11:30 AM in Room 2255 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Chinese citizens want a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, and some activists have publicly called for change. Environmental activists have challenged the government on hydroelectric and other infrastructure projects, intellectuals have submitted petitions criticizing authoritarian policies, and rural farmers are forming associations to protect their collective interests. Chinese officials use regulations and harsh prison terms to suppress any direct criticism of government leaders or the Communist Party's rule, but the government is experimenting with some limited governance reforms. These reforms seek limited expansion of citizen political participation at the local level, while giving the Party new tools to govern a rapidly changing China.

This Roundtable reviewed Chinese citizen demands for greater political participation, examined official Chinese efforts at limited reform, and considered whether these trends offer any possibility for meaningful political change in China.


Dr. Merle Goldman, Professor Emerita of Chinese History, Boston University; Executive Committee Member, Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University

Dr. Joseph Fewsmith, Director, East Asian Studies Program and Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Boston University

Mr. Xie Gang, Former Senior Program Office, Law and Governance Programs, Asia Foundation