In spite of unprecedented levels of social, economic and political development, Chinese politics is characterized by increasingly salient social contradictions, conflicts and even protests. As for the various measures taken by all levels of governments to maintain social stability in changing times, the effect is not obvious, and all kinds of social conflicts are still on the rise. The purpose of this paper is to find out the relationship between political elites and social conflicts and give advice on the adjustment of the governance mode of social conflicts in current China.
This paper attempts to conduct a detailed analysis of the case of Tang Hui re-education through labour to explore how social conflicts arise, upgrade and dissolve within the intention of political elites to maintain social stability in current China.
Political elites who are subject to the pressure of maintaining social stability cannot rely on public interests and civil rights as the full justification for their actions. Above all, they must place social stability first. In this sense, political elites are constructing the network of maintaining social stability and shaping social protests. Social elites use the media or the internet platform to exert public opinion influence and try to push social protests to final solutions. In this way, social elites deconstruct political elites’ network of maintaining social stability. However, the forces that enable social conflicts and protests to be resolved remain to be the network of maintaining social stability itself.
The case of Tang Hui re-education through labour is believed to have hastened the abolition of the system of re-education through labour. As it completely interprets the whole process of the generation, evolution and resolution of social conflicts in current China, this typical case can be considered as an ideal lens through which we can see the unique relationship between political elites and social conflicts, as well as the governance mode of social conflicts in current China.
Funding: The study was supported by the National Scholarship Fund of China 200011.
Zhang, Z. and Caluwaerts, D. (2020), "Political elites and social conflict governance in current China -the case of Tang Hui re-education through labour", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/STICS-10-2019-0015Download as .RIS
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