chapter
13 Pages

Introduction

WithDragan Pavlićević

Public participation is an important, but under-researched and often misunderstood, feature of politics in China. Most Western scholarship has denigrated participatory reforms and practices in China as being purely cosmetic or “directionless”. Yet this book finds that public participation is a key component of China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to ensure popular legitimacy by increasing effectiveness, transparency, responsiveness, and accountability of governance: that is, to build a capable and effective state. Through participatory mechanisms, the public feeds critical information to the party-state apparatus, informs its policy-making processes, and indicates where and when corrective measures need to be taken in policy implementation, enabling the state to improve its governing capacity and performance. An examination of non-electoral participatory mechanisms, such as Public Hearings, Consultative Meetings, and Surveys and Questionnaires, reveals the link between public participation and state building, as well as the extent of change in the relationship between the state and the citizens. This book finds that the state building via participatory strategies is a key feature of political development in today’s China. This chapter introduces goals and methodology of the study, the structure of the book, and its main findings.