More than Affirmative Action: China’s Preferential Policy in the Historical and Comparative Perspectives


Wang Liping, Peking University

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Abstract: With the ethical appeal of equality and justice as well as a more cohesive society, affirmative action policies have been in place for many years around the world. Such measures, going by various names depending on the context and perceived acceptability, have attained their goals to varying degrees in different countries, although the debates surrounding them are never over. In many countries adopting these measures, the political logic of preferential policies has long influenced policy construction and produced their ensuing dilemma: affirmative policies are enduring or even expanding while doubts about such measures continue to bubble up. Given the rapid increase in diversity in many dimensions, old and new, the situation in China is more pressing. The paper will focus on China’s preferential policies in the historical and comparative perspectives in the hope of gaining a better understanding of such policies and advancing more constructive discussions about the affirmative action dilemma in China and beyond.

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