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Factional politics in the CPC: a case study of the rise and fall of Li QingLin


Gao, MCF, Factional politics in the CPC: a case study of the rise and fall of Li QingLin, China Report: a journal of East Asian studies , 35, (1) pp. 41-59. ISSN 0009-4455 (1997) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1177/000944559903500103


The paper presents a case study of the effects of ordinary citizens at the grassroots level on the Chinese political system. It examines three areas: interactions among factionalism, informalism and authoritarianism and a mechanism by which the three features work together to produce a combined effect in Chinese politics; the connection between elite politics and local politics; and how the combination has had devastating effects on individual players who are not at the elite level. The focus is on an individual response to a particular rural policy (shangshan xiaxiang) referred to a massive youth migration programme imposed by the Chinese government under which millions of urban residents were mobilized to settle down in remote rural areas to work on state farms or military reclamation farms. This manipulation was achieved through ideological indoctrination, administrative coercion and material compensation. Serious problems arose and in 1973 a letter was written to Mao by Li QingLin, a schoolteacher in Putian county of Fujian Province, complaining about the loss of his sons to the migration programme. The central part of the paper relates 'the rise and fall of Li QingLin' following Mao's sympathetic response to the letter. A programme of rural reform was initiated in Putian county and Li was raised to the forefront of regional politics, where he attacked the privileged elite who escaped rural migration. Thereby he became involved in national politics and was ultimately imprisoned on the downfall of the Gang of Four. The final section of the paper analyses the broader political and economic lessons to be learnt from the Li incident. It concludes that informal, grassroots movements are a result of the lack of formal channels for the expression of political differences. Factional politics in Mao's China was inherently related to informalism, which was directly related to authoritarianism. There is at present some continuity in the particular trinity, which has considerable significance for contemporary rural policy.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Other Indigenous studies
Research Field:Other Indigenous studies not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Gao, MCF (Associate Professor Mobo Gao)
ID Code:10931
Year Published:1997
Deposited By:Asian Languages and Studies
Deposited On:1997-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-11

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