21 Pages

Introduction: Political change, contestation, and pluralization in China today

In 2008 and 2009, Chinese leaders celebrated a number of important events – the thirtieth anniversary of “reform and opening” (gaige kaifang ), the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen, and hosting the Olympics for the first time. Despite the continuing economic successes and rising international prestige of China, these events occurred in the context of increasing social protests over corruption, land seizures, environmental concerns, and homeowner NIMBY (not in my backyard) movements. Such political contestation presents an opportunity to investigate the changes occurring in China today – what are the goals of political contestation, how are Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders legitimizing their rule, and what are the dynamics of changing state-society relations?