Justice and Claims in Popular Protests in China

Monday, July 14, 2014: 2:30 PM
Room: 502
Oral Presentation
Chih-Jou Jay CHEN , Academia Sinica, Taiwan
This paper studies the conceptions of justice in growing social protests in China. It examines claims made in popular protests, relying on a news database the author collected and constructed, with more than 3,000 mass protest events in 2000-13. It first describes the trend and characteristics of popular protests in contemporary China, and examines the protesters’ notions of justice by analyzing claims raised in popular protests. Specifically, this study finds in urban China the biggest category of protest claims focused on income-related issues, accounting for about half of all protest claims. The other major protest claims included administration issues (e.g., government misconduct, specific government policy or regulations), rights issues (e.g., forced evictions, environmental issues, and student rights), and incidental events. In the rural areas the most important issue that emerged in the early 2000s and accelerated after the mid-2000s was linked to land seizures in suburban villages where local cadres underpaid or embezzled compensations due to peasants for the seizure of their lands. The second confrontational rural issue related to local government misconduct and cadres’ corruption, followed by rights issues such as forced eviction, pollution and environmental protection, and so on. Then this study shows which factors were related to different protest claims in urban cities and rural villages, and discuss how protesters’ notions of justice have affected their claiming choices and protest tactics.