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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Implementing Political Reform in China's Villages

  • Author(s): O'Brien, Kevin J
  • et al.

Why has it been exceedingly difficult to restructure China's village-level, political institutions? Over and above hurdles arising from belated leadership support and bureaucratic squabbling, implementation of The Organic Law of Villagers' Committees has depended on how villagers and local cadres perceive their interests and understand their resources. Although the Law does not generate a single pattern of concerted, localist opposition, aspects of it alienate one or another affected party almost everywhere. Outside the singularly favorable conditions found in not poor, "up-to-standard" villages with a strong collective sector, cadre resistance and villager skepticism have been considerable. In many paralyzed, authoritarian, and "run-away" localities, balancing demands to increase state penetration and popular participation have impinged on the interests of both cadres and villagers and simultaneous acceptance of both key aims of the Law has proven to be difficult to secure.

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