Patrolling Harmony: pre-emptive authoritarianism and the preservation of stability in W County
Today, with social protests a daily phenomenon in China, the Party-state's survival hinges upon its institutional capacity to prevent, monitor, process information on, and overcome real and potential challenges. Over the past decade, the Communist Party has consistently stressed the critical importance of ‘stability preservation’ (weiwen) as central to ensuring the longevity of the authoritarian regime. Drawing upon intensive interviews and archival research, this article looks into the stability-preservation system in W County in North China. By exploring the institutional configuration, work mechanisms, daily activities and operational principles of the stability-preservation apparatus in the county, the author seeks to gain insight into the PRC regime's mythical operations of ‘system maintenance’ and the ways in which the Party-state exerts control over society.