China Policy Institute: Analysis



How sustainable is China’s social security system?

Written by Matthias Stepan.

Social policy is one of the policy fields that remain firmly in the hands of the State Council. In the nearly four years of the Xi-Li Administration, China has made headway in this policy field: social policy programs, such as health insurance and old age pensions have reached nearly universal coverage; levels of social transfers and government subsidies have risen continuously. However, the most important achievement of the administration is the consolidation of the large number of programs that served different groups defined by their household registration (户口hukou) or occupation. In 2014 almost all localities merged the urban resident pension social insurance program and the new type rural pension social insurance program under the label of Urban and Rural Residents’ Basic Pension Insurance. At about the same time, employees in public service units (事业单位shiye danwei), e.g. university staff, have been stripped of privileges. They no longer enjoy higher levels of benefits than regular enterprise employees without paying contributions. Instead they are now insured under the same social insurance programs. Continue reading “How sustainable is China’s social security system?”

Hukou Reform and China’s Migrant Workers.

Written by Cara Wallis.

One distinguishing characteristic of life for Chinese citizens has been China’s long-antiquated hukou, or household registration system, which for decades classified people as urban (non-agricultural) or rural (agricultural) and outsider/insider according to where they were born, not where they reside. Begun in the 1950s as a way for the government to distribute resources from the centrally planned economy and to limit population mobility to prevent overcrowding in cities, in the reform era the policy has come under intense criticism from scholars, human rights activists, and the rural-to-urban migrant population due to the way it has created a two-tiered, caste-like system. In China’s cities, those who hold a local urban hukou are entitled to a range of state welfare benefits (in the form of housing, education, healthcare, etc.) while those who do not must go without. The original purpose of the hukou has become obsolete, yet it nonetheless has held much power in determining people’s life opportunities. Moreover, the structural barriers it upholds are indisputably connected to the cultural prejudices faced by “outsiders,” particularly labor migrants in cities such as Beijing. Continue reading “Hukou Reform and China’s Migrant Workers.”

Banish the Impoverished Past: The Predicament of the Abandoned Urban Poor.

Written by Dorothy J. Solinger.

Aside from the tale of the miraculous “Rise of China” marveled over ceaselessly in popular media, the country’s pulling of millions up from poverty is yet another oft-mouthed piece of rhetoric rehearsed when that nation is the subject. But to be clear about it, these stories of success generally have one of two sorts of foci: if the tale is of “rise,” then the domestic locus of attention is the urban middle and rich classes; if the point is to look at poverty, it is just the peasants, the rural people. All we get, in the main, is about positive, upward trajectories. Continue reading “Banish the Impoverished Past: The Predicament of the Abandoned Urban Poor.”

Refuting the racist Chinese narrative

Written by Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong.

One of our research areas focuses on the links between China and Africa links. An often-raised issue about that interface concerns the place of “race.” We have responded in studies based on surveys we conducted in China and Africa about how Chinese and Africans perceive each other; in analyses of myths that Chinese firms in Africa bring prisoners to labour or refuse to hire Africans; and on the racialization of the Chinese presence in our field site country Zambia by local political elites. Most recently, we have written about how racialization of labour in Chinese firms in Africa is misconceived as resembling that of Western firms operating in developing countries. Continue reading “Refuting the racist Chinese narrative”

Yuepao apps and casual sex culture

Written by Haiqing Yu.

“Every technological innovation creates deviant as well as respectable possibilities.” So opens an essay written by Charles Edgley and Kenneth Kiser in 1982. The invention of instant photography represented by the Polaroid Camera facilitated homemade pornography, known in its day as “Polaroid sex.” Polaroid sex allowed young women, who were identified as “bad girls”, to pose for “naughty” pictures and engage in more egalitarian sexual pursuits. It also facilitated casual and commercial sexual relationships among strangers. Fast forward to China in 2016, where the availability and immense popularity of social media services and mobile phone apps has rendered casual sex “mobile,” on-the-go, and at one’s finger tips. They have enabled all kinds of young adults to explore their sexuality, set new trends, and pose new questions about the linkage between technology and sex, “deviance” and respectability. Continue reading “Yuepao apps and casual sex culture”

Attitudes to sex and hook-up culture in China

Written by Jue Ren.

Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian pop star, was recently exposed by female fans who accused him of infidelity. Contrary to the scandal involving Hong Kong-Canadian pop star Edison Chen in 2008, when intimate images of Chen and his numerous partners were leaked, Wu’s female partners were responsible for going public rather than having images posted online without their consent and subsequently suffered a ‘slut shaming’ backlash. The difference illustrates how attitudes toward sex have changed in the last eight years.

The Chen scandal was the first time dating culture among Chinese celebrities was exposed to the public. Intimate photos of Chen with various women, including a number of actresses from Hong Kong, were illegally distributed via the Internet. Although both Chen and his female partners were affected, the women had trouble convincing the public that they were also victims of having their sex lives maliciously exposed online. The scandal broke during Chinese New Year, which made it a main topic of conversation among families and friends who were meeting for the festivities. Many of the Millennial (九零後) students that I taught at Shantou University in 2014 clearly remembered discussions during that holiday gathering. For some of them it was the first “sex education” they received.

Continue reading “Attitudes to sex and hook-up culture in China”

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