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Title: Chinese local congresses in urban communities : political communication through the liaison station
Authors: Li, Ruozhu
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2021
Abstract: The People's Congress Representatives liaison station in residents' community (人大代表社区联络站, hereafter "liaison station(s)"), first set up in Shenzhen in 2005, was recognized as a permanent agency within the urban neighborhoods in China after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party in 2012. Owing to the growing numbers and visibility of liaison stations, this study investigates whether such an institutional arrangement promotes the communication between the People's Congress representatives and their constituencies, and decreases the compartmentalization between elite participation and non-elite participation. Drawing on the three representation styles of the People's Congress representatives classified by Melanie Manion (2014) and the compartmentalization theory elaborated by Woo Yeal Paik (2009), I first developed a theoretical framework on two dimensions (representation type and compartmentalization) with six potential models (pork-barrel, deliberation, penetration, mobilization, corporatism, and meritocracy). Based on the data collected through fieldwork in Shenzhen and from online archives, I then investigated which models could explain the political communication between the representatives of People's Congress and their constituencies through the channel of liaison stations. Key elements involved in the process of communication, including channel, receiver, source, message, and feedback, were examined in the analysis.
The findings suggest that liaison stations provide a form of political communication encouraging non-compartmentalization between the participation of the People's Congress representatives (elites) and that of their constituencies (non-elites). Three of the potential models—pork-barrel, deliberation, and meritocracy—are considered suitable for explaining the process of such political communication through liaison stations, although the explanatory power of the other three models, especially the corporatism model, cannot be fully ruled out. I argue that the current move toward non-compartmentalization has the potential to develop into a more mature form in the future, but right now it remains limited and still in an early stage. One unexpected finding is that the residents' committee plays an important role of mediator, and have combined forces with the People's Congress representatives to bridge the gap between government and residents. Residents' committees are crucial for the liaison stations' efforts to advance non-compartmentalization. The settings and operations of liaison stations are deeply embedded in the residents' committees, so that liaison stations have the opportunity to benefit from the resources provided by the residents' committees. This finding has important implications for the achievement of elite and non-elite integration in political communication: it is beneficial to introduce a third party, who has displayed a long-term commitment to both groups. The research goes beyond the discussion mainly concerning the representation of the People's Congress in the existing literature. The findings provide more details and fresh insights for understanding the actual operation of China's representative system in grassroots governance, and for developing subsequent research on liaison stations, the People's Congress system, and democratic development in China.
Subjects: Communication -- Political aspects -- China
Communication in politics -- China
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: xi, 275 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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