Protest Policing and Workers’ Strikes in China

Nov 14, 2014 | 12:00 PM

Chih-Jou Jay Chen (Associate Professor, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair/discussant: Martin Whyte (John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Sociology, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

This talk identifies salient emerging trends of growing popular protests in China using an author-constructed database of 5,000 news events on mass protests from 2000 to 2013, and an in-depth field report of a massive strike which occurred in April 2014. The speaker will first highlight key features of popular protests in China, including the initial groups, claims, targets, scales, forms, locations, and protest policing. Then he will examine the dynamic relationship between protest and repression, and show that severe repression, such as police arrests of protesters, has been selective, depending on a protest’s form, size, target, and group background. China’s deep-rooted urban-rural disparity also leads to noteworthy differences of policing styles between cities and villages. A case study on a massive strike in a footwear factory shows how collective action was triggered, mobilized and ended. Finally, the speaker will discuss the implications of the various upswings in protests on state-society relations and regime transformation in China.