what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chinese administrative reforms in international perspective

OK out there – all thousands of you – the moment you have been waiting for has arrived! I have completed my paper for the Euro-Sino dialogue on administrative reform and all 35 pages and 72 footnotes are duly waiting for you here. To be fair, only about 20 odd pages are my own work – the rest is text gratefully borrowed from project ToR; the likes of Colin Talbot (who delivered a lecture in Beijing last year which I have reproduced as an annex); and the lists of books)
I am keen to get up the hill at the back because I leave today – and, typically, it is the most glorious weather of the entire week. Cloudless blue sky (except over the Bucegi peaks) but with a sharp white frost on the ground

The last thing I had to do this morning before converting the text to pdf and zinging it to the website was a Coda which I perhaps too quickly drafted – its peroration goes like this -
One has to respect the dignified way in which national power in China is shared in the party leadership; policies are hammered out behind the scenes in a dialogue which involves academics; and formal positions of nationals leadership pass in a regularised way from person to person every decade.
Perhaps no leaders in world history have ever had the responsibilities and expectations which those of China have today. Having achieved a remarkable economic transformation and wealth, the leaders of this massive country are now expected to deal with pollution and the poverty in which so much of its people still live; the inequity and systemic corruption; and also achieve a peaceful achievement to a system of Rule of Law.
Those who have the combination of audacity and good fortune to go to the country to assist those efforts – whether in teaching or consultancy – should have the humility to admit that they have no answers.
Not, of course, that their hosts expect that from their visitors. They have their own context and processes of and capacity for policy experimentation, deliberation and decision. They are painfully aware of their weaknesses; and look to their visitors for something which, unfortunately, seems to be in short supply – historical understanding. That is to say the ability to articulate the processes by which, for example, Nordic countries transformed themselves into the societies in which they are today. Sadly, western technocrats have colluded in recent decades to destroy a lot of that.
If a Euro-Sino dialogue can restore some memory and respect for what Europe had, it will indeed have been worthwhile.

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