Professor Stein Ringen, University of Oxford, presents this seminar, asking the question ‘In what sense is China a dictatorship?’
Abstract: The reformed People’s Republic has reinvented dictatorship. The regime has turned away from the crude dictatorship of the Maoist period to a new form of sophisticated dictatorship. The mechanism of this dictatorship is indirect control. While the state has in some ways been in retreat, the party has extended its reach. In a population of near to 1.4 billion people, the party is everywhere, sees everything and knows everything. Most of the population, including the new business and middle class elite, is co-opted into the web of the party and its affiliates. The internet, rather than having become a force of liberalisation from below, has become another instrument of control. The Chinese state is edging towards a dictatorship that is in some ways pain-free, with effective controls that run so smoothly that people stay in line because it makes sense to do so. A system of near-totalitarian control is able to make itself look like a benevolent autocracy.
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Part of the China Seminar Series.
14 December 2023