Elections have performed a regime-legitimizing function for the Chinese Communist Party(CCP). Under CCP control, the electorate has been unilaterally forced to support the CCP, as questioning the content of the values of communism that the CCP sought has not been permitted. In recent years, however, the electorate has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of values. For the continuing strengthening of its regime, the CCP has had to allow elections to serve to articulate interests. The greatest issue for the CCP is to what degree to allow the interests articulated and values expressed by citizens because either limiting them too much and permitting them too much could shake the existing regime. The direct election of Local People’s Congress delegates in Beijing in 2003 saw the entry of many independent candidates who aimed to be elected outside the influence of the CCP. This paper examines the career histories, motivations, and election campaigns of the independent candidates as well as the response of the CCP organization. The research reveals the following points regarding the limits of CCP permission on the proposal of values in the election process and the significance of those limits. The motivation of many independent candidates was not articulation of interests but participation in politics; however, the independent candidates who won were in the end charged with the articulation of interests as a result of their election. They told the electorate that there were options in terms of values. However, none of the independent candidates elected took an adversarial stance in relation to the CCP, and the value options that they presented were always within the range permitted by the CCP. The top echelon of the CCP seeks to incorporate a new conciliatory class in the CCP organization based on the policy of ‘improving the composition of delegates’ through elections. On the other hand, the response of CCP grassroots organizations reveals the imposition of the following three limits on the presentation of values. First, the presentation of values may not infringe on the power of the election management authorities in election operation. Second, the election campaigns of independent candidates may not have wide-ranging impact. Third, the values presented may not include criticism of the CCP. In the future, how the criteria for presenting values change needs to be examined as an issue related to the legitimacy of the CCP regime.
Contrary to popular belief, the Cantonese were not always oriented on working overseas as has been presumed in recent studies of overseas Chinese. In fact, the Cantonese were active investors in the mining business in southern China, especially in tungsten mining in Jiangxi province, the southern border of which is adjacent to the northeast of Guangdong. Although archives from the Qing period contain much about the involvement of the Cantonese in tin mining in the east of Guangdong, little has been investigated of their activities afterwards. However, during 1930s in the Republican era, the Guangdong Ministry of Construction started supervising the development of the newly exploited tungsten mining in Jiangxi by controlling tungsten exports. Traditionally, the southern part of Jiangxi came within the economic sphere of Guangdong, and thus the control of tin mining in Jiangxi by the Guangdong authorities was not considered as economic invasion across the provincial border. The Cantonese spread their mining business as far as Yunnan province. In 1910, the completion of Dian-Yue (Yunnang-Viet Nam) railroad promoted the rapid transportation of tin from Yunnan to Hong Kong through Viet Nam. By the time of the Sino–Franco agreement of 1933, the Chinese had won almost total freedom of residency and business in Viet Nam, which stimulated their local business. From the statistical point of view, based on the number of residences of outsiders in Yunnan during the Republican era, there were relatively few Cantonese in Yunnan but the archives show that the Cantonese were economically the most active group in the mining and export of tin, while the Fujianese left almost no trace in the province.
The official history of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has depicted the Guangzhou-Hong Kong strike of 1925–26 as a highly successful labor movement. During this period, armed labor organizations, called ‘pickets’ (jiuchadui), played an important role in maintaining this prolonged strike. This paper aims to offer a new perspective on the Chinese labor movement in the 1920s through a re-examination of the pickets using materials such as daily newspapers, publications by the Strike Committee, selected manifestos and articles, and also unpublished Kuomintang archives. Previous scholars, whether Chinese or not, have tended to adopt the CCP’s discourse, which was based on Deng Zhongxia’s text. However, by the 1990s, there was a marked change, and scholars, including Robert J. Horrocks and Michael Tsang-woon Tsin, attempted to approach the Guangdong labor movement during this period in perspective different to that of the CCP. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to claim that we have a decisive alternative to the CCP’s discourse. This article takes the middle ground between revisionist studies and the CCP’s official history, focusing on the fact, overlooked in previous studies, that the pickets probably helped to alleviate unemployment. Confiscation of Chouhuo, or enemy (i.e. British) products, might in fact have been one of the means of subsistence for unemployed workers. The pickets were taken with the idea of confiscating from not only British merchants but also Chinese society—actions that can be understood within the framework of the struggle against imperialism. As a result, many conflicts between pickets and other local groups occurred. In conclusion, I suggest that we should grasp the strikers’ behavior based on the image of a mixture of egoistic Homo economicus and ideal proletariat. While the former image of workers is found in revisionist studies, like those of Tsin, the latter is found in the CCP’s narrative. Further, we should note the organizational circumstance that made the strikes possible. The Strike Committee was centralized, and did not exert strong control over the lower echelons of the movement; this enabled people to ignore its direction. Moreover, paying attention to the armed civil conflict among Guangdong workers, I show the people who eagerly participated in and led the labor movement were young men, particularly those who tended to behave as brigand. Finally, I conclude that this labor movement structure might be to some extent common to the other Chinese popular movements in this period.
This article challenges a popular theory of democratization (i.e. liberal theory) which has largely shaped our understanding of the subject. This theory focuses on the presumed link between economic development and the emergence of pro-democratic civil society, which then drives a democratic transformation: a strengthening of civil society implies a corresponding weakening of the authoritarian state. Driven by a naïve belief in the universal potential of the civil society factor, it is often assumed that all countries are travelling on the same historical path, ending with the establishment of a liberal democracy. This theory has also been utilized in the analyses of political change in Southeast Asia, though experience of the region casts doubt upon its relevance. For example, in Malaysia and Singapore, high levels of economic development have yet to produce strong pro-democracy civil society forces and authoritarian states continue to exist. Also, the role played by civil society forces in the process of so-called ‘democratisation’ in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia has been rather limited. Furthermore, democracies in these countries display many features that suggest their democracies are more formal than substantive and that a liberal democracy is one of the least likely outcomes. These observations suggest the limits of this popular theory in Southeast Asia, though much of the literature still operates within the context defined by this theory, with many scholars seeking to ‘save’ the theory by introducing an array of auxiliary hypotheses. This article emphasizes the importance of breaking free of this liberal mindset and presents an alternative framework not only to capture the broad pattern of illiberal democracies in Southeast Asia but also to shed a different light on how the prospects of political transition are assessed in other non-democratic regimes in the region. To this end, this article suggests that democratization in Southeast Asia does not present a change in the balance of the state–society relationship but offers a mechanism through which to manage differences among the elite. More specifically, this article locates the proximate cause of political transition in the disruption of stable circulation of patronage within the state, which creates disgruntled elites who have lost access to state resources. These regime elites in turn push for political change in an attempt to regain access to patronage networks. Against this backdrop, political transition—which is commonly referred to as ‘democratization’—entails a reorganization of patronage networks within the state.