International Development Planning Review

Participatory governance in China: analysing state-society relations in participatory initiatives in Suzhou

International Development Planning Review (2019), 41, (3), 329–352.

Abstract

Participatory governance has been increasingly promoted in China since 2006. Whilst the state appears to be supportive of nurturing self-governance at the community level through providing financial incentives, it is worth investigating whether the state hampers citizen autonomy in practice. This article examines the implementation of participatory initiatives in a middle-class neighbourhood within the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). Through interviews and observing the interactions between state actors, residents and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), this paper examines the impact of changing the facilitator of self-governance initiatives from academics to NGOs. The findings reveal complex relations: although the state does not interfere in participatory processes directly, state-defined evaluation criteria that privilege 'innovative' practices, and budget constraints of NGOs, have weakened the capacity of residents to practise self-governance. The findings add to the literature on participatory governance by highlighting the unique role of community leaders in shaping the quality of citizen involvement in participatory initiatives in China.

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References

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Rhodes, R. A. W. (1996) ‘The new governance: governing without government’, Political Studies, 44(4), 652–67. Google Scholar

Shieh, L. and Friedmann, J. (2008) ‘Restructuring urban governance’, City, 12(2), 183–95. Google Scholar

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Sullivan, H. (2001) ‘Modernisation, democratisation and community governance’, Local Government Studies, 27(3), 1–24. Google Scholar

The State Council of People’s Republic of China (2015) ‘Opinions on strengthening community deliberation in cities and towns’ (Guān Yú Jiā Qiáng Chéng Xiāng Shè Qū Xié Shāng De Yì Jiàn in pinyin), http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/2015–07/22/content_2900883.htm (accessed 20 August 2018). Google Scholar

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Whyte, W. F. (1991) Participatory action research, London, Sage. Google Scholar

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Yip, N. (2012) ‘Walled without gates: gated communities in Shanghai’, Urban Geography, 33(2), 221–36. Google Scholar

Yip, N. M. and Jiang, Y. (2011) ‘Homeowners united: the attempt to create lateral networks of homeowners’ associations in urban China’, Journal of Contemporary China, 20(72), 735–50. Google Scholar

Zhang, J. and Xia, J. (2011) ‘An analysis of the solution on dilemma of new community governance and its feasibility: take the self-governance practice of Pin Yuan community in Beijing for example’ (Xīn Xíng Shè Qū Zhì Lǐ Kùn Jìng De Pò Jiě Jí Qí Kě Háng Xìng Yán Jiū – Yǐ Běi Jīng Shì Pǐn Yuàn Xiǎo Qū De Shè Qū Zì Zhì Shí Jiàn Wéi Lì in pinyin), Journal of Gansu Institute of Public Administration (Gān Sù Háng Zhèng Xué Yuàn Xué Bào in pinyin), 2011(02), 75–83, 91. Google Scholar

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Zhang, T. (2002), ‘Decentralization, localization, and the emergence of a quasi-participatory decision-making structure in urban development in Shanghai’, International Planning Studies, 7(4), 303–23. Google Scholar

Arnstein, S. (1969) ‘A ladder of citizen participation’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 35(4), 216–24. Google Scholar

Bray, D. (2006) ‘Building “community”: new strategies of governance in urban China’, Economy and Society, 35(4), 530–49. Google Scholar

Bryson, J. M., Crosby, B. C. and Bloomberg, L. (2014) ‘Public value governance: Moving beyond traditional public administration and the new public management’, Public Administration Review, 74(4), 445–56. Google Scholar

Burkhalter, S., Gastil, J. and Kelshaw T. (2002) ‘A conceptual definition and theoretical model of public deliberation in small face-to-face groups’, Communication Theory, 12(4), 398–422. Google Scholar

Chen, W. (2013) Community construction with Chinese characteristics: experience of Suzhou Industrial Park (Zhōng Guó Tè Sè Shè Qū Jiàn Shè : Sū Zhōu Gōng Yè Yuán Jīng Yàn in pinyin), Beijing, China Society Press. Google Scholar

Chinese Communist Party Central Hall (2006) ‘CCP’s Central Office’s decisions on key issues of building socialist harmonious society’ (Zhong Gong Zhong Yang Guan Yu Gou Jian She Hui Zhu Yi He Xie She Hui Ruo Gan Zhong Da Wen Ti de Jue Ding in pinyin), Communiqué of People’s Republic of China State Council, 33, 5–14. Google Scholar

Collins, K. and Ison, R. (2009) ‘Jumping off Arnstein’s ladder: social learning as a new policy paradigm for climate change adaptation’, Environmental Policy & Governance, 19(6), 358–73. Google Scholar

Davis, D. (2006) ‘Urban Chinese homeowners as consumer-citizens’, in S. Garon and P. Maclachlan (eds) The ambivalent consumer, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 281–99. Google Scholar

Arnstein, S. (1969) ‘A ladder of citizen participation’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 35(4), 216–24. Google Scholar

Deakin, N. and Walsh, K. (1996) ‘The enabling state: the role of markets and contracts’, Public Administration, 74(1), 33–47. Google Scholar

Bray, D. (2006) ‘Building “community”: new strategies of governance in urban China’, Economy and Society, 35(4), 530–49. Google Scholar

Fiorina, M. P. (1999) ‘Extreme voices: a dark side of civic engagement’, in T. Skocpol and M. P. Fiorina (eds) Civic engagement in American democracy, Washington, DC, Brookings Institute Press, 395–426. Google Scholar

Bryson, J. M., Crosby, B. C. and Bloomberg, L. (2014) ‘Public value governance: Moving beyond traditional public administration and the new public management’, Public Administration Review, 74(4), 445–56. Google Scholar

Fung, A. (2006) ‘Varieties of participation in complex governance’, Public Administration Review, 66(s1), 66–75. Google Scholar

Burkhalter, S., Gastil, J. and Kelshaw T. (2002) ‘A conceptual definition and theoretical model of public deliberation in small face-to-face groups’, Communication Theory, 12(4), 398–422. Google Scholar

Habermas, J. (1981/2005) The theory of communicative action: one: reason and the rationalization of society, Boston, Beacon Press. Google Scholar

Chen, W. (2013) Community construction with Chinese characteristics: experience of Suzhou Industrial Park (Zhōng Guó Tè Sè Shè Qū Jiàn Shè : Sū Zhōu Gōng Yè Yuán Jīng Yàn in pinyin), Beijing, China Society Press. Google Scholar

He, S. (2015) ‘Homeowner associations and neighborhood governance in Guangzhou, China’, Eurasian Geography and Economics, 56(3), 260–84. Google Scholar

Chinese Communist Party Central Hall (2006) ‘CCP’s Central Office’s decisions on key issues of building socialist harmonious society’ (Zhong Gong Zhong Yang Guan Yu Gou Jian She Hui Zhu Yi He Xie She Hui Ruo Gan Zhong Da Wen Ti de Jue Ding in pinyin), Communiqué of People’s Republic of China State Council, 33, 5–14. Google Scholar

Healey, P. (1996) ‘The communicative turn in planning theory and its implications for spatial strategy formation’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 23(2), 217–34. Google Scholar

Collins, K. and Ison, R. (2009) ‘Jumping off Arnstein’s ladder: social learning as a new policy paradigm for climate change adaptation’, Environmental Policy & Governance, 19(6), 358–73. Google Scholar

Healey, P. (2015) ‘Citizen-generated local development initiative: recent English experience’, International Journal of Urban Sciences, 19(2), 109–18. Google Scholar

Davis, D. (2006) ‘Urban Chinese homeowners as consumer-citizens’, in S. Garon and P. Maclachlan (eds) The ambivalent consumer, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 281–99. Google Scholar

Heberer, T. (2009) ‘Evolvement of citizenship in urban China or authoritarian communitarianism? Neighborhood development, community participation, and autonomy’, Journal of Contemporary China, 18(61), 491–515. Google Scholar

Deakin, N. and Walsh, K. (1996) ‘The enabling state: the role of markets and contracts’, Public Administration, 74(1), 33–47. Google Scholar

Hildebrandt, T. (2011) ‘The political economy of social organization registration in China’, China Quarterly, 208, 970–89. Google Scholar

Fiorina, M. P. (1999) ‘Extreme voices: a dark side of civic engagement’, in T. Skocpol and M. P. Fiorina (eds) Civic engagement in American democracy, Washington, DC, Brookings Institute Press, 395–426. Google Scholar

Hsu, J. Y. J. and R. Hasmath (2014) ‘The local corporatist state and NGO relations in China’, Journal of Contemporary China, 23(87), 516–34. Google Scholar

Fung, A. (2006) ‘Varieties of participation in complex governance’, Public Administration Review, 66(s1), 66–75. Google Scholar

Hu, Y., de Roo, G. and Lu, B. (2013) ‘“Communicative turn” in Chinese spatial planning? Exploring possibilities in Chinese contexts’, Cities, 35, 42–50. Google Scholar

Habermas, J. (1981/2005) The theory of communicative action: one: reason and the rationalization of society, Boston, Beacon Press. Google Scholar

Jia, X. (2011) ‘Civil organization-government relationships: functional cooperation and power dilemmas’, in M. Wang (ed.) Emerging civil society in China, 1978–2008, Leiden, Brill, 209–37. Google Scholar

He, S. (2015) ‘Homeowner associations and neighborhood governance in Guangzhou, China’, Eurasian Geography and Economics, 56(3), 260–84. Google Scholar

Healey, P. (1996) ‘The communicative turn in planning theory and its implications for spatial strategy formation’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 23(2), 217–34. Google Scholar

Kindon, S., Pain, R. and Kesby, M. (2007) Participatory action research approaches and methods: connecting people, participation and place, New York, Routledge. Google Scholar

Logan, J. R. and Molotch, H. L. (1987) Urban fortunes: the political economy of place. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press. Google Scholar

Healey, P. (2015) ‘Citizen-generated local development initiative: recent English experience’, International Journal of Urban Sciences, 19(2), 109–18. Google Scholar

Lowndes, V. and Sullivan, H. (2008) ‘How low can you go? Rationales and challenges for neighbourhood governance’, Public Administration, 86(1), 53–74. Google Scholar

Heberer, T. (2009) ‘Evolvement of citizenship in urban China or authoritarian communitarianism? Neighborhood development, community participation, and autonomy’, Journal of Contemporary China, 18(61), 491–515. Google Scholar

Ma, W. and Li, L. C. (2012) ‘Community governance reform in urban China: a case study of the Yantian model in Shenzhen’, Journal of Comparative Asian Development, 11(2), 224–47. Google Scholar

Hildebrandt, T. (2011) ‘The political economy of social organization registration in China’, China Quarterly, 208, 970–89. Google Scholar

Hsu, J. Y. J. and R. Hasmath (2014) ‘The local corporatist state and NGO relations in China’, Journal of Contemporary China, 23(87), 516–34. Google Scholar

Osborne, D. E. and Gaebler, T. (1993) Reinventing government: how the entrepreneurial spirit is transforming the public sector, New York, Plume. Google Scholar

Hu, Y., de Roo, G. and Lu, B. (2013) ‘“Communicative turn” in Chinese spatial planning? Exploring possibilities in Chinese contexts’, Cities, 35, 42–50. Google Scholar

People News (2016) ‘Selected words from Xi Jingping on deliberation since the 18th CCP’s congress’, (Shí Bā Dà Yǐ Lái Xí Jìn Píng Guān Yú Rén Mín Zhèng Xié De Jīng Cǎi Lùn Shù in pinyin), http://cpc.people.com.cn/xuexi/n1/2016/0303/c385474–28167866.html (accessed 1 December 2018). Google Scholar

Jia, X. (2011) ‘Civil organization-government relationships: functional cooperation and power dilemmas’, in M. Wang (ed.) Emerging civil society in China, 1978–2008, Leiden, Brill, 209–37. Google Scholar

Pratchett, L. (2004) ‘Local autonomy, local democracy and the new localism’, Political Studies, 52(2), 258–75. Google Scholar

Kindon, S., Pain, R. and Kesby, M. (2007) Participatory action research approaches and methods: connecting people, participation and place, New York, Routledge. Google Scholar

Quick, K. S. and Feldman, M. S. (2011) ‘Distinguishing participation and inclusion’, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 31(3), 272–90. Google Scholar

Logan, J. R. and Molotch, H. L. (1987) Urban fortunes: the political economy of place. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press. Google Scholar

Rhodes, R. A. W. (1996) ‘The new governance: governing without government’, Political Studies, 44(4), 652–67. Google Scholar

Lowndes, V. and Sullivan, H. (2008) ‘How low can you go? Rationales and challenges for neighbourhood governance’, Public Administration, 86(1), 53–74. Google Scholar

Shieh, L. and Friedmann, J. (2008) ‘Restructuring urban governance’, City, 12(2), 183–95. Google Scholar

Ma, W. and Li, L. C. (2012) ‘Community governance reform in urban China: a case study of the Yantian model in Shenzhen’, Journal of Comparative Asian Development, 11(2), 224–47. Google Scholar

Shining Stone Community Action Centre (2013) ‘Training for facilitator: World Café (community teahouse)’ (in Chinese), http://www.ssca.org.cn/index.php?c=content&a=show&id=130 (accessed 31 December 2017). Google Scholar

Osborne, D. E. and Gaebler, T. (1993) Reinventing government: how the entrepreneurial spirit is transforming the public sector, New York, Plume. Google Scholar

Shu, X., Chen, W. and Luo, P. (2013) ‘Neo-communitarianism and new mechanisms for the forging of community identity: an investigation of the construction of harmonious community relations in Suzhou Industrial Park’ (“Xīn Lín Lǐ Zhǔ Yì” Yǔ Xīn Chéng Shì Shè Qū Rèn Tóng Jī Zhì —Duì Sū Zhōu Gōng Yè Yuán Qū Gòu Jiàn Hé Xié Xīn Lín Lǐ Guān Xì De Diào Chá Yán Jiū in pinyin), Journal of Socialism Studies (She Hui Zhu Yi Yan Jiu in pinyin), 2013(4), 147–52. Google Scholar

Stoker, G. (2003) Transforming local governance, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar

People News (2016) ‘Selected words from Xi Jingping on deliberation since the 18th CCP’s congress’, (Shí Bā Dà Yǐ Lái Xí Jìn Píng Guān Yú Rén Mín Zhèng Xié De Jīng Cǎi Lùn Shù in pinyin), http://cpc.people.com.cn/xuexi/n1/2016/0303/c385474–28167866.html (accessed 1 December 2018). Google Scholar

Pratchett, L. (2004) ‘Local autonomy, local democracy and the new localism’, Political Studies, 52(2), 258–75. Google Scholar

Sullivan, H. (2001) ‘Modernisation, democratisation and community governance’, Local Government Studies, 27(3), 1–24. Google Scholar

Quick, K. S. and Feldman, M. S. (2011) ‘Distinguishing participation and inclusion’, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 31(3), 272–90. Google Scholar

The State Council of People’s Republic of China (2015) ‘Opinions on strengthening community deliberation in cities and towns’ (Guān Yú Jiā Qiáng Chéng Xiāng Shè Qū Xié Shāng De Yì Jiàn in pinyin), http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/2015–07/22/content_2900883.htm (accessed 20 August 2018). Google Scholar

The World Café (2017) ‘History’, The World Café, http://www.theworldCafe.com/about-us/history/ (accessed 13 June 2017). Google Scholar

Rhodes, R. A. W. (1996) ‘The new governance: governing without government’, Political Studies, 44(4), 652–67. Google Scholar

Shieh, L. and Friedmann, J. (2008) ‘Restructuring urban governance’, City, 12(2), 183–95. Google Scholar

Whyte, W. F. (1991) Participatory action research, London, Sage. Google Scholar

Xiong, G. (2003) ‘Research on Development Plan of Sino-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park’ (Sū Zhōu Gōng Yè Yuán Fā Zhǎn Guī Huá Yán Jiū in pinyin), Urban Planning Forum (Chéng Shì Guī Huá Xué Kān in pinyin), 2003(2), 77–80, 96–99. Google Scholar

Shining Stone Community Action Centre (2013) ‘Training for facilitator: World Café (community teahouse)’ (in Chinese), http://www.ssca.org.cn/index.php?c=content&a=show&id=130 (accessed 31 December 2017). Google Scholar

Yip, N. (2012) ‘Walled without gates: gated communities in Shanghai’, Urban Geography, 33(2), 221–36. Google Scholar

Shu, X., Chen, W. and Luo, P. (2013) ‘Neo-communitarianism and new mechanisms for the forging of community identity: an investigation of the construction of harmonious community relations in Suzhou Industrial Park’ (“Xīn Lín Lǐ Zhǔ Yì” Yǔ Xīn Chéng Shì Shè Qū Rèn Tóng Jī Zhì —Duì Sū Zhōu Gōng Yè Yuán Qū Gòu Jiàn Hé Xié Xīn Lín Lǐ Guān Xì De Diào Chá Yán Jiū in pinyin), Journal of Socialism Studies (She Hui Zhu Yi Yan Jiu in pinyin), 2013(4), 147–52. Google Scholar

Yip, N. M. and Jiang, Y. (2011) ‘Homeowners united: the attempt to create lateral networks of homeowners’ associations in urban China’, Journal of Contemporary China, 20(72), 735–50. Google Scholar

Stoker, G. (2003) Transforming local governance, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar

Zhang, J. and Xia, J. (2011) ‘An analysis of the solution on dilemma of new community governance and its feasibility: take the self-governance practice of Pin Yuan community in Beijing for example’ (Xīn Xíng Shè Qū Zhì Lǐ Kùn Jìng De Pò Jiě Jí Qí Kě Háng Xìng Yán Jiū – Yǐ Běi Jīng Shì Pǐn Yuàn Xiǎo Qū De Shè Qū Zì Zhì Shí Jiàn Wéi Lì in pinyin), Journal of Gansu Institute of Public Administration (Gān Sù Háng Zhèng Xué Yuàn Xué Bào in pinyin), 2011(02), 75–83, 91. Google Scholar

Sullivan, H. (2001) ‘Modernisation, democratisation and community governance’, Local Government Studies, 27(3), 1–24. Google Scholar

Zhang, L., Brumann, C., Chen, N. N., Hsing, Y. T., Siu, H. F., Smart, A. and Tomba, L. (2006) ‘Contesting spatial modernity in late-socialist China’, Current Anthropology, 47(3), 461–84. Google Scholar

The State Council of People’s Republic of China (2015) ‘Opinions on strengthening community deliberation in cities and towns’ (Guān Yú Jiā Qiáng Chéng Xiāng Shè Qū Xié Shāng De Yì Jiàn in pinyin), http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/2015–07/22/content_2900883.htm (accessed 20 August 2018). Google Scholar

The World Café (2017) ‘History’, The World Café, http://www.theworldCafe.com/about-us/history/ (accessed 13 June 2017). Google Scholar

Zhang, T. (2002), ‘Decentralization, localization, and the emergence of a quasi-participatory decision-making structure in urban development in Shanghai’, International Planning Studies, 7(4), 303–23. Google Scholar

Whyte, W. F. (1991) Participatory action research, London, Sage. Google Scholar

Xiong, G. (2003) ‘Research on Development Plan of Sino-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park’ (Sū Zhōu Gōng Yè Yuán Fā Zhǎn Guī Huá Yán Jiū in pinyin), Urban Planning Forum (Chéng Shì Guī Huá Xué Kān in pinyin), 2003(2), 77–80, 96–99. Google Scholar

Yip, N. (2012) ‘Walled without gates: gated communities in Shanghai’, Urban Geography, 33(2), 221–36. Google Scholar

Yip, N. M. and Jiang, Y. (2011) ‘Homeowners united: the attempt to create lateral networks of homeowners’ associations in urban China’, Journal of Contemporary China, 20(72), 735–50. Google Scholar

Zhang, J. and Xia, J. (2011) ‘An analysis of the solution on dilemma of new community governance and its feasibility: take the self-governance practice of Pin Yuan community in Beijing for example’ (Xīn Xíng Shè Qū Zhì Lǐ Kùn Jìng De Pò Jiě Jí Qí Kě Háng Xìng Yán Jiū – Yǐ Běi Jīng Shì Pǐn Yuàn Xiǎo Qū De Shè Qū Zì Zhì Shí Jiàn Wéi Lì in pinyin), Journal of Gansu Institute of Public Administration (Gān Sù Háng Zhèng Xué Yuàn Xué Bào in pinyin), 2011(02), 75–83, 91. Google Scholar

Zhang, L., Brumann, C., Chen, N. N., Hsing, Y. T., Siu, H. F., Smart, A. and Tomba, L. (2006) ‘Contesting spatial modernity in late-socialist China’, Current Anthropology, 47(3), 461–84. Google Scholar

Zhang, T. (2002), ‘Decentralization, localization, and the emergence of a quasi-participatory decision-making structure in urban development in Shanghai’, International Planning Studies, 7(4), 303–23. Google Scholar

Arnstein, S. (1969) ‘A ladder of citizen participation’, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 35(4), 216–24. Google Scholar

Bray, D. (2006) ‘Building “community”: new strategies of governance in urban China’, Economy and Society, 35(4), 530–49. Google Scholar

Bryson, J. M., Crosby, B. C. and Bloomberg, L. (2014) ‘Public value governance: Moving beyond traditional public administration and the new public management’, Public Administration Review, 74(4), 445–56. Google Scholar

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