chapter  11
15 Pages

A question of confidence: State legitimacy and the new urban poor

If state benevolence is to serve as a critical condition for Chinese citizens’ acceptance of their government as legitimate, as Vivienne Shue suggests in Chapter 2, then the concept and practice of official “benevolence” (ren ) demands some interrogation in today’s China. Does benevolence obtain, and do those who would depend deeply upon it believe in its presence? And, as evidence of such belief, do they entertain an expectation that the state, in its guise as giver, can be counted upon for what for them are vital extensions of its current offerings in the days to come?