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Cai – Managed Participation in China
“Reforms that negatively affect people's interests may lead to resistance that not
only thwarts reform but also threatens social stability and the careers of politicians
who are deemed responsible for unpopular consequences.”
Reforms do not necessarily progress easier in authoritarian regimes versus
democracies; while the latter must appeal to and convince the electorate, the
experience of the Soviet Union shows the difficulties inherent in reform.
Fiscal reform in rural China has increased financial burdens on peasants, and has
led to continual and widespread resistance.
Reform of SOEs has seen urban resistance due to the massive layoffs.
These disturbances however have been short-lived and nonviolent, and thus has
not seriously disrupted social order. Worker resistance has consequently only
slowed, and not stopped economic reform.
From 1995-98, SOEs decreased by 44%; from 95-2000, public employees decreased
by more than 48 million.
All of these reforms have been done in the absence of an adequate welfare system
and “an unfavorable reemployment environment.”
Research indicates that auth. regimes can most successfully prevent social
disruptions from reform if it institutions socioeconomic reform to improve the
condition of the lower class first. Political/civil reforms may follow. To reverse the
sequence is to entice revolution (a la Soviet Union.) China appears to be pursing the
more stable economic-to-political sequence for reforms.