Until recently, China has offered a striking paradox to observers: that of an authoritarian regime with a vibrant – albeit immature because constrained- civil society. In this presentation, Dr. Chloé Froissart will explain why, although the Chinese state has not granted an institutionalized space for civil society, the use of the term “civil society” was still relevant under the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao leadership (2002-2012) and offer an overview of its dynamics at that time. She will then expose the Xi Jinping leadership’s multi-fold endeavors to re-format the space allotted to social organizations, religious associations, the medias and academics according to state’s goals, underlining a common logic across different sectors. Dr. Chloé Froissart will finally discuss the effectiveness of these efforts and the sustainability of the new model of “people’s society”, which the leadership attempts to substitute to the previous one. The general take is that, although China has entered an unprecedented era of suppression and restriction, which already has a chilling effect on civil society and is at the same time detrimental to the Chinese Communist Party, the Xi administration’s ability to fully reverse the trend might be limited in the long run.
About the Speaker
Dr. Chloé Froissart is currently the Director of Tsinghua University Sino-French Centre in Social Sciences in Beijing, Senior Researcher in political sociology and political science at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Hong Kong, and Associate Professor at the University of Rennes 2 (France). She taught at various institutions, such as the National Institute for Foreign Languages and Civilisations (INALCO, Paris), Paris Institute of Political Sciences and the School for Higher Studies in Social Sciences (Paris). Her research interests focus on the development of civil society in China, citizenship and political participation, especially in the fields of labour and environmental politics. She is the author of La Chine et ses migrants: La conquête d’une citoyenneté, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013 and wrote numerous articles on the development of civil society in authoritarian regimes, social protest movements and the rule of law. She sits on the editorial boards of China Perspectives and Critique Internationale. Aside from her scientific work, she has been involved in advisory work for several governmental and non-governmental bodies and testified before the US Congressional Executive Commission on China.
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