Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Inequalities with Chinese characteristics

It's not just in the USA that politicians are watching for the effects of inequalities. Will they affect politics, legitimacy, socialization, and political culture?

Studies Point to Inequalities That Could Strain Chinese Society
President Xi Jinping calls it his “China Dream” — a vision of a cohesive, equal society, increasingly wealthy and healthy, and happily wedded to Communist Party rule, ardent patriotism and traditional values. That vision, splashed on television and billboards everywhere here, has driven Mr. Xi’s vow that under his administration, Chinese society will become more equal and just.

But two new studies from institutes in Beijing suggest that while Chinese people remain wedded, though not always blissfully, to the status quo, Mr. Xi confronts a persistent undercurrent of discontent with inequality in incomes, schooling opportunities and health care. That social strain could become troublesome, especially if the economy continues to falter…

Mr. Xi and his prime minister, Li Keqiang, have said that overcoming these social imbalances is a priority. But the report, drawing on the results of an annual survey covering more than 35,000 adults and 13,000 families, warns that more needs to be done.

“These problems demand effective solutions,” the report said. “Otherwise, it is very possible that they will threaten social stability and become a bottleneck in social and economic development.” …

The study shows that… family background plays a powerful role in determining people’s level of schooling, especially parents’ educational attainment. But in China, political privilege is also an important factor. Whether your father is a member of the Communist Party… is a powerful determinant of educational attainment…

Discrimination against girls has weakened, but it remains a powerful factor in the opportunity for schooling…

Unequal access to health care has also been a source of dissatisfaction for many Chinese…

“Compared to the working class, and especially workers in the state sector, China’s middle class has a more positive assessment of perceptions of the rich-poor gap, trustworthiness of officials and government performance,” the study said. “The middle class has the potential to become a social stabilizer.”

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