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Blue book on “analyses and projections for Chinese society”

Aurélien Boucher, « Lu Xueyi, Li Peilin, Chen Guangjin (eds.), 2013 nian Zhongguo shehui xingshi fenxi yu yuce (Analyses and projections for Chinese society in 2013) », China Perspectives [Online], 2013/3 | 2013, Online since 01 September 2013, connection on 19 November 2013. URL : http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/6295

This volume is part of a “blue book” (lanpishu) collection. With 19 others published in 2013 – on subjects as diverse as education, the economy, and special economic zones – it must be seen as an official “report” (baogao), meant to make a first assessment of national and/or local public policies. Published since 1993, the blue book on “analyses and projections for Chinese society” is mostly the work of scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). It is one of the missions of the academy, whose role consists of standing alongside the government in the “reform” process. Since early in the last decade, studies compiled by CASS have focused on issues such as the development of a welfare state (health care system, retirement pension, and unemployment insurance), jobs, social mobility, labour relations, and the evolution of rural societies.

2In terms of the themes dealt with, the 2013 edition makes no break with previous ones. It is part of a movement that began in 2009 calling greater attention to university graduates’ professional integration, Internet usage, and food and environmental safety. Five of the 26 articles in the 2013 edition deal with these subjects while the others take up traditional themes. The only notable change is that for the first time, the book has no article specifically devoted to the issue of corruption (fubai).

3On the whole, the writing follows the highly restrained style of previous editions. The authors avoid going into generalities and linking the construction of categories of analyses. They also take little notice of criticisms made by social agents toward Party leaders. Even the article by Zhu Huaxin, Liu Peifeng, and Shan Xuegang on the expression of public opinion on the Internet – discussing among other things the way citizens see national and local officials – is restrained (pp. 193-212). Apart from a passage of ten lines or so addressing comments on corruption and officials’ lifestyles, the authors prefer to tackle this sensitive topic through occasional references to “incidents” (such as torrential rains in Beijing that led to the mayor’s exit, and the “Wang Lijun/Bo Xilai affair”). Authors’ criticisms come through implicitly in the overly politically correct idea that “the Internet represents (for the government) a means of adjusting its relationship with society and pacifying social challenges” (p. 211).

Read the full text of the article pubished in China Perspectives on Revues.org

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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