P45. Public Policies in China: Birth Control, Hukou System, and Zero-Covid

Session: Session 6, 2:00 – 3:00 pm, Saturday 9/30

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Loyalty

Chair: Yuefan Wang (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Ruonan Wang (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Sheldon (Yaodong) Xie (George Washington University), Xuyi Zhao (Boston University)

Governmental Certificates of Birth Control and the State Project of Birth Planning in Contemporary China

Speaker: Ruonan Wang
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: Birth control was a major biopolitical technique of population governing applied in China since the 1970s. This paper provides a brief analysis of family planning projects in China, through the lens of governmental certifications associated with birth control and adopts a gendered perspective. The certifications covered in this analysis include the two special certificates created by the state’s birth planning project: the childbirth permit and the single-child certificates. This paper aims to shed light on how the state’s governing of its population materialized into the daily lives of individuals, shaping them into the subjects of the state through the use of official certificates as a medium in modern-day China. This paper argues that government-issued certificates pertaining to birth control serve as a medium for disseminating the state’s power over population regulation into the fabric of people’s everyday life. While these certificates communicate the state’s governing over people, transforming them into compliant subjects of the state, they also embody and even legitimize a patriarchal knowledge behind the state’s birth planning project in contemporary China.

Governance Challenges under Zero-COVID China: How the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Keep Its Rule and Sustain Resilience in the Pandemic Era?

Speaker: Sheldon (Yaodong) Xie
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: The George Washington University
Abstract: This paper examines the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ability to sustain its rule and resilience during the pandemic. The study first reviews the CCP’s authoritarian resilience debate and outlines the Party’s evolving survival strategies after 1989. Next, the thesis describes the Zero-COVID Policy in China and the new challenges that the CCP faced while implementing it, such as heavy socioeconomic burdens, the politicization of the policy, and societal public discontent.   To overcome these challenges, the CCP turned to new sources of legitimacy and survival strategies, relying on its rigorous Party organization during the pandemic. By identifying the persistent and new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, it highlights specific domains of CCP’s toolkit, such as grid management and response to anti-lockdown protests. It then evaluates the CCP’s strategies for sustaining its resilience during the pandemic, which include:   1. Strengthening the coherence of the Party through the revival of dominant consolidation of Party apparatus in Chinese society; 2. Enhancing governance capacity by selectively responding to the demands of the people; 3. Implementing a wide range of digital suppressive surveillance.  Overall, the thesis concludes that the CCP’s resilience during the pandemic era is relatively fragile and relies on a rigorous and organizational network of Party apparatuses that are deeply rooted at the local level, selective and tactful responsiveness to Chinese people’s demands, and a “sharper” digital surveillance framework. The study’s findings offer insights into the CCP’s survival strategies and its ability to adapt to new challenges.

Citizenship as Reward: Migration and the Spatiotemporal Politics of City-Making in Southwest China

Speaker: Xuyi Zhao
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Boston University
Abstract: My paper examines the relationships between city-making, migration, and the hukou regime in a brand-new urban district built from scratch in southern Chengdu. China’s hierarchically differentiated citizenship produced by the hukou system constitutes the origins of many forms of urban inequalities as it not just engenders distinctions between locals and non-locals but also create different classes of citizens and different degrees of full inclusion in cities. Existing scholarship on the hukou system and domestic migration focuses predominantly on the rural-urban divide – arguably the most significant social cleavage in China. However, urban-to-urban migration is becoming an increasingly important mode as obtaining hukou in a higher-tier city means not just better citizenship entitlements but also a new marker of social status for upwardly mobile migrants.  Drawing on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I illustrate how recent reforms in the hukou system has created a “citizenship as reward” paradigm for urban governance, thus enabling the local government to relocate the native rural population and then attract over 100, 000 highly educated urban migrants to repopulate the rapidly urbanizing area. The “citizenship as reward” paradigm, I argue, serves the state’s larger project of zoning development and regulating the social composition of the new city. Hukou in this context incentivizes people to move so that a series of privileges are made possible by the transition from an “outsider” to an “insider.” Moreover, it contributes to an emerging spatiotemporal imagination of the new city to be cosmopolitan, future-oriented, and exclusive to certain groups of citizens.