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Vivienne Shue, Elvera Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture 2016

Vivienne Shue, Elvera Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture 2016


(gentle music) – Welcome to Center for Chinese Studies Elvera Kwang Siam Lim Memorial
Lecture in Chinese Studies. My name is You-tien Hsing. I’m the faculty in
Geography, and I’m also Chair for Center for Chinese
Studies here at Berkeley. This single Chair
lecture was made possible through the very generous gift to the Center for Chinese
Studies by Mrs. Lim’s family. This year, we are very honored to have Professor Vivienne Shue to
deliver our Lim Memorial Lecture. Vivienne Shue is a Professor Emeritus of Contemporary China Studies
at the University of Oxford. She’s also a fellow of
St. Antony’s College, and fellow of the British Academy. Before she joined Oxford in 2002, as the director of its
Contemporary China Study Program, Vivienne also taught Chinese politics at Yale and Cornell Universities
for more than 25 years. Her teaching and writing on
the Chinese state and society has influenced generations of scholars. Many of you are here, and
many of you are not here, but you know, I promised Vivienne I’d give a very short introduction, since she really doesn’t
need more introduction. And she has this very
influential classic book on “The Reach of the State”, which is still on the must-read list that I give to my students. And also other classic works, “Tethered Deer: Government and
Economy in a Chinese County”. And her recent works include some of the well-cited book chapters, such as “Legitimacy Crisis in China?” And “Mao’s China: Putting
Politics in Perspective”. For today’s talk, Vivienne will
present her current research that examines 21st century
Chinese government modes, and techniques, including high-tech national
development planning, using big data and satellite mapping. This work will be published very soon from Cambridge University Press, in a co-edited volume
with Patricia Thornton, entitled “To Govern China:
Involving Practices of Power”. Please join me in welcoming
Professor Vivienne Shue. (crowd applauding) – Hello everyone. Thank you, You-tien, for
your kind introduction. And I’d like to thank everyone at the Center for Chinese
Studies faculty and staff who were involved in
inviting me to participate in what has become such a
distinguished lecture series, and giving me the opportunity
to come back here to Berkeley, which for me, as for so many of us, has been for so long now. Such a consequential
space in Chinese studies where serious work gets done. It’s always a pleasure to be here, and thank you all for turning out, I’m glad to see you all. I have an awful lot I want to
try to tell you about today. And we’re going to start out, as you can, I want to warn you very much on dry land, but we’re going to end up at
least ankle-deep in water. And still, all the while of course, we will be thinking about
how to think about power, and how to think about
political change in China. And, since time is short,
I don’t want to spend too much of it on preliminaries. Nevertheless, to help keep
you all with me on what I fear is going to be a bit of a meander, I thought it might help to first explain something about myself, which I don’t normally tell people about, but all my life, I’ve been
one of those poor, lost souls, who’s cursed with a truly
inferior sense of direction. You may have run across
other people like me. We’re never entirely sure
where the place we are is in relationship to say, other places. And we’re never quite sure
how we got to where we are, or how we might go about
retracing our steps, or which way to turn to get
to our next destination, and so we do tend to follow
indirect routes at times, in something like a meander. This, you can learn to
consume pretty well, and manage to seem pretty
well-pulled together, but persistent locational
uncertainty can cause stress, and I can tell you that
I’ve only found about three different coping
mechanisms for this in my life. We can talk about the other
two later in the Q and A if you’re interested,
but the one I want to draw your attention to is
that it’s a very good idea, if you’re afflicted in this way, to develop a serious affection
and admiration for maps. And I have been interested
in maps of all kinds all of my life. I have, as you might imagine,
pored, for countless hours, over maps of China, in particular. And so, I have to conclude that
this is the real reason why when in 2011, when I first saw these maps, which no other China
watchers that I was aware of, seemed to be giving
very much attention to, I was so transfixed by them. And I’ve been working on them ever since. The maps in question that
we’re going to be looking at briefly, very briefly, sorry to say today, were released at the very end of 2010, with something that was called, when the State Council promulgated
something that was called China’s first ever National
Spatial Master Plan. And it was rolled out at that
time as part of the planning that came along with the introduction of the 12th Five-Year Plan. The National Spatial Master
Plan was a plan intended to govern the development
and use of the whole of the national territory. All of its land, all of its waters, and I was just startled by the
immensity of its objectives, and the sheer ambition of
it, as well as by the maps. The master plan stipulated
that all of China’s land and all its waters would be
classified into categories, according to the main function each area was deemed to perform. And these categorical zoning
assignments would determine the speed and the extent to which, and the guidelines according
to which each zoned space and any of the resources within it could or could not be utilized
for future development. The basic framework upon
which the master plan rested posited just three types
of principle functions; Urban industrial, rural agricultural, and ecological functions,
which were conceived of as the generation of a
central ecological products such as clean water, fresh air,
and sufficient biodiversity to sustain a tolerable
climate and environment for human life to
survive, and to flourish. Let’s see if we can get right. This is a slide from a
PowerPoint that was used by Vice Minister Wang Yiming, when he was introducing the plan at a
meeting that I attended. The national zoning plan, as you can see, this is, even if you can’t
read the blurry Chinese, I really wanted you to see the photographs which show how things used
to be, and how they are now. It was premised, this plan,
on a rather sober assessment of China’s existing pattern
of spatial development as one that was already by that time dangerously out of balance. The nation’s National
Geographic Endowment, it has, as you know, vast
stretches of mountainous terrain, and arid deserts and
high altitude plateaus, this confronts the
still-growing population with a severe shortage of space, suitable still for development. What space remains has
already been compromised by sprawling urban growth,
destruction of farmland, and un-controlled exploitation
of natural resources over recent decades, as well
as by numerous misguided earlier attempts at development
that proved very damaging. So on this rather ominous
general assessment made by the National Development
and Reform Commission, the NDRC central planners,
the challenges to develoment that the nation faced
were posed, essentially, as spatial ones. Once the principal
function of a zone was set, it could be further categorized
into one of just four spatial development groupings. And here we have a map that shows us the
key urbanized areas. The first zone, I’ll go
through these rather quickly, was where future
development would continue, but it would have to be optimized. This, let’s see if we
have a pointer, yeah, this referred to the major
already rapidly-booming areas that were macro economies along the coast, which were planned to
continue to urbanize, to grow rapidly, but which had to be made to develop more space intensively by optimizing consumption
of land energy and resources using high-efficiency technologies. All right. The second category was the area in which zoning, in which development would be
prioritized, not optimized, but prioritized, given priority. And these were areas already
possessing comparatively strong capacities for innovation
and modernization, and they were primarily in the
middle of the central region of the country, as you see
there, demarcated there, in those large blue circles. There were then zones, the third category, where development would
have to be restricted, and these were broken into
two groups in the master plan. First, the zones of the country
which would be classified as essentially agricultural,
this shows you those belts. First, this is where farming, fisheries, and allied technical support
and service and food processing and distribution industries
were to be concentrated in the future, and the
nation’s goals here were cast, when you read the plan,
rather starkly, again, in terms of taking all
steps necessary to assure the nation’s food security. Take a look, well, okay, we’ll
just wait one more slide. The final zone, the second
group rather of the third zone, was the environmental zones. And this was comprised
of several regions of critical importance to the
nation’s environmental security. In these zones, the goals
included permitting only environmentally-friendly
industrial development, and reducing human populations, where they have already
reached levels that are putting dangerous pressures on national resources, in part, by engineering planned migrations of excess populations
out of these regions. Take a look just up, sorry, up here, and kind of
remember the shape of that as we look at the next, at the next slide, and this will give you an idea. This indicates the zones that
were in the fourth category, those which were national-level prohibited development zones. And the map demarcates the
areas where future development would have to be entirely prohibited. These included vital, already fragile or endangered environments
across the national territory. And by 2010, these were
already clearly marked out, as you can see, and quite extensive, and they included, even,
the demarcation of, this map shows special
places like existing and planned UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks and forests, natural monuments, and scenic treasures. So the planning had gotten
quite specific on the map. Now when I was studying each
of these national-level maps, I gradually came to understand, gradually, that where I was looking
at was a map of a plan, mapped targets, to be achieved
through implementation of a long-term spatial plan. And anyone who possesses even
a superficial familiarity with Chinese political realities is aware that central planned target setting, as a standard tool of
governance is one thing, while implementation or
non-implementation of those targets on the ground is usually
something else entirely. So, it’s not surprising
that at the same time, that these maps were released,
and the plan was announced, from the outset, much
attention was also given to crafting central policies in, central policies and a whole
sets of policies in ways that would incentivize localities, especially those localities
where development would have to be restricted or prohibited, incentivizing those places to comply with land use zoning regulations. So there was a complementary
constellation as you see in this slide, borrowed from a colleague at Tsinghua University, of fiscal investment
sectoral land, population, environmental, and country
performance evaluation and other supporting
policies that were rolled out at the same time in a general, yet to be perfected way, then. Now, these may look complex, especially if you don’t
read Chinese, I’m sorry. (chuckles) If you don’t, but there’s
really very little that was subtle about them. One way or another, they were intended to neutralize opposition by
buying off local people, local corporations, and
not least, local officials with huge injections of central
subsidies and transfers, compensatory payments and rewards, preferential investments and tax breaks, buyouts, land swaps, and other
managed incentive schemes. So, we’ll see what ensued. There’s little doubt in my mind, trying to follow the
implementation of this over the past few years that
massive infusions of cash, billions and billions of US dollars allocated from central budgets have been what has kept the national
zoning program moving forward over this period. One of the program’s key promoters, this Vice Minister of Development Planning named Wang Yiming likened
what, or referred to as ecological products such as
clean air and fresh water to, and this is a quote from him, “Goods that everyone needs
but no one can afford to buy. “It’s the role and
responsibility of government”, he argued then, “To put
enough money on the table “in effect, to purchase
these goods for the people “and for the nation.” Now, as I said, I’ve pored
over many a map of China in my time, but in early 2011,
when I first saw these maps, I was hugely impressed with them, and impressed with statements like the one I just quoted from Wang, whose lecture, introducing zoning program to what was a very keyed-up auditorium
full of public policy students at Tsinghua, I happened
to be able to attend. The change of direction
that this master plan represented then, after decades of active state complicity in the dispelliation of
the Chinese environment struck me as remarkable, powerful. Especially accompanied, as the maps were, by nearly 200 published
pages supporting the need for maps like this with
reference to hundreds of high-tech scientific data reports, satellite-enabled GIS observations, and computer projections
compiled by blue ribbon panels of botanists, zoologists,
geologists, soil scientists, meteorologists, medical
researchers, demographers, urban planners, and public policy experts. Wang Yiming’s no-nonsense lecture to the Tsinghua student bureaucrats
featured the glossiest, most comprehensive PowerPoint
presentation I had ever seen, mixing as it did the stern
mentality of state regulation with ecology and
systematics-based climate change and conservation-inflected
discourses on sustainability. And featuring also 21st
century capitalism’s ideals of high-tech generated,
digitally-empowered, best practice managerialism
in business, public safety, and governance. The very creation of these
maps was an immense performance of power, I thought, the power
of planners, at the center, to orchestrate state of the art
data collection and analysis over vast fields of scientific
and social knowledge, and then to synthesize it
so as to generate goals on the ground, and guide
governmental action. In these painstakingly-mapped visions, we observe the totality of
the Chinese nation space, now imagined as one of
comprehensively ordered, thoroughly harmonized,
ultra productive efficiency, with ecological sustainability, and strict preservation guaranteed, both for China’s priceless
natural resources, and its prized cultural heritage. These maps would have to
be regarded as visionary, I thought. No other nation remotely
approaching the size of China has attempted to plan the use, literally, of every square kilometer
of its nation space. Yet as I began, when I got back to Oxford, I began explaining what I was
spending my research time on to various students and
colleagues back then, I observed that most of them
seemed pretty underwhelmed. And so I struggled to
analyze in my own mind the powerfulness that I
thought I saw in these maps. “So you mean only some things
on these maps are real?” one of my students asked,
“A lot of which represented “there is just imagined? “It’s what the planners
would like to see happen “by, say, 2030 or 2050? “Well, given that you,
Vivienne, of all people, “ought to know about the
actual chances of getting “good things done for people’s
health and the environment “in China these days”,
he seemed, the student, to want to signal to me, “Aren’t
these maps just something “the party state does for show? “Really, dreams? “Just so much decorative
artwork”, as it were. I understood the reaction, of course, even have shared it myself
until I finally recalled a passage I’d read years earlier in what, in Hugh Brody’s, by then, already classic cultural ethnography
of modern day Canadian sub-arctic Indian hunter-trappers, who still talk about
their people’s old ways. Where Brody’s book on
the Athapaskan Indians, which is titled “Maps and Dreams”, if you haven’t come across it, what that book had revealed,
I thought, was that, even before there were states,
before settled agriculture and civilization, human
beings, surviving in groups, on the land and the waters
were making maps out of dreams about the future, and associating
their maps with power, a mysterious power. Let me read you the passage
that I then went back to the book to look up. It relates something one
man let slip out one evening in a conversation around
the campfire when Brody, the ethnographer, was out
with a small band of hunters. This man said, and it’s a
long quotation but it’s fun, “Some old timers, men that
became famous for their powers “and skills had been great dreamers, “hunters and dreamers. “They had not sought uncertainly
for the trails of animals, “whose movements we can only guess at. “No, they located their prey in dreams, “found their trails and made dream kills. “Then the next day, they could go out, “find the trail, re-encounter the animal, “and collect the kill. “Maybe you think this is all nonsense, “just so much bullshit. “Maybe you don’t think
this power is possible. “Few people understand. “The Indians around this
country know a lot about power. “In fact, everyone has
had some experience of it. “The fact that dream hunting works “has been proved many times. “Today, it’s hard to find
men who can dream this way. “There are too many problems. “Maybe there will again be strong dreamers “when these problems we face are overcome. “Then more maps will be made, new maps. “Oh yes, Indians made maps. “You would not take any notice of them. “You might say such maps are crazy. “Old timers made maps of trails, “ornamented them with lots of fancy. “The good people. “None of this is easy to understand. “But good men, the really good men, “could dream of more than animals. “Sometimes they saw heaven and its trails. “You may laugh at these maps
of the trails to heaven, “but they were done by the good
men who had the heaven dream “and who wanted to tell the truth. “They worked hard on their truth.” Well, looking back at Brody’s book, I reminded myself of how
the mapping of dreams, envisioning the future has long been an indispensable first step
in the practice of power. A reflective, creative
performance through which leaders of human groups, from hunting and fishing communities, to modern day nation states exercise both cognitive and practical
influence over the world as it is today, and the world to come. To envision the future, to map it, has regularly served as an
instrument of leadership. One technique for agenda setting, for striving to move all concerned parties onto the same page, and for pointing a way forward. Now while some may be inclined to dismiss China’s spatial master plan
and its maps as just a dream, others may see it as a
vision for the future. Among the scientific
experts and the technicians and the map makers and
the very solemnly resolute senior central planners
in Beijing who have been promoting maps like these, and the meanings that lie behind them over these recent years, I think it may be more
accurate to say that these digitized spatial imaginings
are conceived more by them as elegant sketches of what
remain long hard roads ahead. For China’s top development planners, these maps represent the tracings of cold and treacherous trails that needs must be trodden by
all, and in double-quick time in real fear of ecological collapses, environmental calamities,
social disorientations, even nationwide privation. And traversed these trails
must be in hungry pursuit instead of an urban,
modern, higher-tech version of a kind of heaven on earth
for the nation and its people. So in the paper I finally
did complete about this mapping project,
I ended up concluding that the maps are for show after all, but not only for show. Instead, I think we can
and ought to interpret them as the graphic artifacts
of a particular style of political leadership, one
that has evolved in China out of past governance
achievements, lapses, and missteps, and in response to technical
and social challenges presenting themselves on a scale now and at a level of
complexity never imagined or grappled with before. They illustrate still,
very handsomely in my eyes, what I see as a distinct
style of leadership that has become one of the
trademark characteristics of 21st century Chinese
governing practice. Back to that. At the time that some of these thoughts were just beginning to gel in my mind, Tia Thornton, Patricia Thorton, once a student at Berkeley, now my valued colleague in
Chinese politics at Oxford, Tia and I were just starting to plan for an international conference
that we wanted to convene in Oxford in 2012, to which we gave the rather deliberately expansive title, “Governing and Being Governed
in 21st Century China”. Our research aspirations for
the conference were actually pretty modest ones,
despite the title though. Essentially, we wanted
it to be exploratory, to provide a preliminary
scan through the essays that would ultimately be
published from the conference of what we were then, in 2012, perceiving as a puzzlingly-irregular
expanding universe of changing Chinese political practices, the emphasis we put on practices. And we aimed to sample
what we suspected or felt was becoming a broad,
unevenly-choreographed repertoire of governing practices. My own chapter would focus on mapping as a practice of power. Hers would concern new
governing practices applied to managing the social
management of the urban poor, and the marginalized groups. Well, now that the collective
papers, after all these years, have finally gone to press, we think our volume may
actually have more to offer to our field than just a sampling, and so I want to leave
the mapping dimension of governance for now, and turn for my remaining
time more to outlining for you the general argument
of the book as a whole. It’ll be out in 2017, and
we do hold out some hope that it may, if its read,
succeed in suggesting a refreshed, general
framework for approaching the study of governance in China today, a progressive orientation, we hope, at least for some good future
research by young people. As the political scientists
here today among you will recall, by the dawn of this century, what we had called Transitology, the transition to democracy,
paradigm, that kind of work, was already showing signs of
having exhausted its usefulness and a new generation
of Western scholarship began probing what it posited
to be the characteristics and the dynamics of those more obstinately not democratizing authoritarian regimes of which there were plenty
to be found around the globe. That emerging subfield of studies in comparative authoritarianism
began turning up evidence that autocratic elites
were indeed becoming adept at creating modern political institutions such as parties and popular elections that would actually serve to
consolidate their hold on power and successfully foster more durable forms of authoritarian rule. And given the neo-institutional turn prevailing over much
of the discipline then, many of these new
scholarly studies set out to demonstrate that political
institutions are in fact the critical causal
variables in the survival of authoritarian regimes. This new orientation
significantly impacted the China field too, and
the mounting evidence presented by these
scholars does seem to show that over the years, the
CCP also has been learning how to rule more subtly
and astutely than before. And yet, many of our close
observers of China still predict that the reform of
authoritarian learning curve of the party state will
not extend indefinitely. Sooner or later, authoritarian
resilience must somehow be supplanted, they say,
by genuinely liberal, more democratic political institutions, in order to avert a future
crisis and state collapse. There’s an apparent
contradiction here, we believe, and we believe that it can be traced to the tendency in the
comparative authoritarianism literature to continue to
be driven by a conspicuous intellectual yearning to
explain what is felt still to be the incomplete, partial
and failed third wave of democratization. So in the introduction to the
work, Tia and I argue that the very concepts of authoritarian
adaptation and resilience which have been imported into
comparative governance studies from the ecological and
the engineering sciences, these very concepts each carry
core assumptions of their own that are problematic in
modeling political affairs. Assertions of the
resilience or the durability of a particular political
system implicitly project assessments of that system’s
demonstrative capacity to weather previous crises
and shocks into the future. But today’s evolutionary biologists, who are analyzing processes
in the natural world, have already learned the
hard way to avoid predicting future trends and outcomes in
the systems that they study. The most sophisticated
contemporary advances in natural world
evolutionary theory recognize that random variations
within complex systems can and very frequently
do set development along totally new and unpredictable paths, not all of which contribute
to or ultimately result in overall system survival. Since complex, nonlinear
systems are constantly evolving, these scientists caution,
lessons once learned in the past may no longer work or retain
validity in the present. And the nature of systems
and systems equilibria also can and do change
often quite unpredictably. In other words, we must
accept that in both the natural world and the human one, behaviors and practices
that appear merely adaptive may in fact be shifting
the mainstream of change, incrementally or even more rapidly into new and unanticipated directions. In that introductory chapter,
we make an argument that current concepts of
authoritarian resilience and adaptive change have
genuinely been helpful in challenging the underlying implicit, teleological assumptions of Transitology. Nonetheless, researchers
in our China study subfield must confront the fact that
resilience as a work in concept only takes us so far, and more critical imagination
is urgently called for if we are to theorize persuasively about unanticipated evolutionary pathways. Our next step then in the
China studies field, we think, must be to seek new perspectives
from which to apprehend what we see as a much broader panorama of multivalent practices and processes that are all simultaneously present, exerting influences and
energies within the system, and needing to be traced
out as tributaries to the flow of China’s swiftly
ongoing political evolution. So what our collection has
to offer, we now think, is a range of different vantage
points on the problems of governing and being governed in China, from a group of senior
observers who have shared a working orientation
toward the understanding of governance today as full
of countervailing pressures, moving in more than one
direction at any one time, and so, potentially full of paradox. And understanding of
governing that is as a hybrid, or an amalgam made up of rather
widely differing purposes and practices, something
that’s not all of a piece, a complex of shifting forces, and with most definitely with
no single hand in control. I think I have three slides here. I have the table of contents. If I had more time, and maybe
we can do this in the Q and A if you’re interested,
I’ll be able to tell you a little bit more about
the chapters that are, or each of the chapters, but let me just sketch out for you here the general organization of what we do. The first three papers, as you see here, focus in the typical way, I’m afraid it’s rather
predictable after all, the way we’ve organized it. There are many ways we
might have organized these very rich essays. But this focuses of course
on leadership practices, strategic practices at the
very top level of the system. The next two papers move the
spotlight down just a bit to the mid-reaches of bureaucratic action, where bureaucrats and people
come into some kind of contact that, but not direct, and
somewhat intermediated, or at arm’s length contact, and how, to ways of dealing with problems
of politics at that level. The next section, as you see,
brings us down to consider politics and governance carried
out by agents of the state at local levels, and
here we look primarily at urban and rural areas that
are rapidly urbanizing right at the grassroots level. And the final three papers, in the typical state society division, drive the analysis that step
further down into society talking about governing through
the manipulation of class and class identities, and also
taking what Foucault termed, in the end, looking at certain
practices of governmentality or what are called techniques of the self in the final chapter. What we’re saying is required
with this collection of essays after we’ve evaluated it, Tia and I, is that we find an approach that’s capable of accommodating the mixed
effects multidirectionality that’s observable within
all these different ongoing processes of political change, an approach that’s attuned to recognizing the internal strains of criss-crosssed and intersecting trends
within political systems. To get to this, we believe
we need to generate first a new metaphor, or a frame of analysis, one that’s capable of
capturing incremental factors and processes, including
those that converge to form a mainstream of evolutionary change, along with those that may
wander off into other channels, drawing strength away from the main. Striving for such a broader
panorama of the processes that are contributing
to political evolution over long periods of time, that’s the kind of approach
we hope to be advancing with our new publication, and we hope it may be followed through now by others with more detailed
delineations beyond these few that we have scanned in
our particular overview. Our initial expectation, as I said, was that we might conduct
a first scan to help define a repertoire of diverse
practices that were enmeshed in different dimensions
of governing China today. But by the time we
finally neared completion of the revisions and the re-editing, we actually started to
wonder whether we didn’t need to reconsider that initial expectation, whether our idea of scanning a repertoire of governing practices did or didn’t, when all was said and done, stand up as the most
appropriate frame or metaphor to use in characterizing
the interesting, but really, tangled techniques we’d
actually uncovered. This was because in all
cases, the practices that are highlighted in these essays
don’t conform to fixed scripts, they are not static, but
they are in themselves continually undergoing
renewal and revision. They appear not polished or pre-rehearsed, but forever fluid and
continuously in the making. Furthermore, the practices
highlighted in the book are never performed singly. They overlap each other in time,
inhabiting different spaces or dimensions, so to speak,
of the larger overall process of governing, intersecting
with another at intervals, but with no one set of
practices ever dominating all the action on the political stage. And the stage on which the
performance of governing proceeds appears to us now more
akin to that of a carnival, or a circus, with multiple
rings and stalls and tents. There is not one single
political stage at the front of a theater, suitably
set and illuminated, and designed to hold the
spellbound gaze of the audience. It’s rather more like a circus, with many, multiple rings and stalls and tents all simultaneously offering
what you might think of as popular attractions,
games and amusements. So these two important features
of the governance practices that we uncovered with our work, their kinetic fluidity
and the simultaneity of their performance, we thought, or perhaps not after all
best captured conceptually as choices made from a preset menu, or from pre-rehearsed
theatrical repertoire. It was Charles Tilly, of course, who so influentially
used the term repertoire to describe what he saw as
a limited set of routines that are learned, shared, and acted out through a relatively
deliberate process of choice. He understood the elements
in a repertoire to be, and I’m quoting, “Learned
cultural creations “that emerge from struggle.” And it’s here, so it
seems to us now anyway, that the conceptual
framework of the repertoire reaches certain limits. And it doesn’t fit the
dynamically-unfolding facts on the ground in China quite
as well as we had foreseen. So, is there a more fluid metaphor? A better fitting heuristic
we could adapt, we ask, for the conceptual task we face? A few very good comparative
politics scholars lately have been urging that we
take evolution more seriously in political science. And this injunction,
along with the findings of our contributors did stimulate
us to turn our attention to some of the revisionist theorizing that’s now taking shape in the fields of evolutionary ecology,
including research in macro evolutionary processes. We’ve been curious to
consider in particular some of the very latest
inspiring work being done by paleoanthropologists, of all people, investigating the evolutionary
histories of primates, including early hominins
such as Australopithecus and the emergence of the genus homo. Propelled by advances in DNA analysis, and by some extraordinary fossil
finds made in recent years over different parts of the globe, these sciences have been going through an especially rich period
of theoretical questioning and rethinking, with working
assumptions, of course, rooted in the Darwinian
model of evolution, scientists in these
fields once, not long ago, sketched their images
of evolutionary change including their images
of primate evolution in a straight, linear, ever
upwardly ascending design. A convention that was later
replaced by a conception which came to be represented
in the form of a branching tree and then a bush, but the
branches on the trees and bushes, which represented differing species, and these branches and
bushes were familiar to every schoolchild
just a generation ago, these branches were
imagined as discreet ones, growing off and away from each other, never to interconnect
again in space or time. With a lately mounting
genetic and fossil evidence of early hominin population
flows and intersections, even interbreedings
across species however, many of these scientists
today have concluded that it is now time to replace
the representation of a tree with that of an interwoven
plexus of genetic lineages that branch out and fuse once again with the passage of time. A new impetus has been
emerging then lately in evolutionary science circles
in favor of substituting a more liquid, watery
image, and specifically, the image of a braided
stream for the familiar but still stiff and twiggy tree. The braided stream looks now
to be a leading candidate for representing some of
these empirical researchers’ freshest understanding of the
processes they have uncovered through their research. Now it’s worth pausing to
note that this concept of a braided stream wasn’t invented
by the paleoanthropologists but borrowed by them, from the
science of physical geography as a metaphor to better
capture the overall patterns of flow and change that
they had been observing and struggling to describe. Just a quick primer on braided streams. Braided rivers frequently
form when glacial ice melts. Water moves away from the source, and fast flowing streams
and rivers sometimes, depending on the nature of
the underlying substrate, transporting great quantities
of sediment and larger debris. If the sediment load is
very large in relation to the velocity of the stream, coarser material may
begin blocking the stream, diverting it and forcing
it off and repeatedly to change its course. Such rivers consist of
multiple smaller channels, that divide and recombine, forming an intertwining
pattern resembling a braid. A dynamic and fluid process
model like this may also be usefully employed to
express overall patterns and counter in political
evolutions, we think. Such a fluid heuristic, postulating what is an ornate
tracery of interlacing flows traveling at differing
speeds over uneven spaces and across time could truly
help guide future research in comparative politics, as
a supplement to some of our more familiar linear
tree-like and performative, or repertoire-like heuristics. In this kind of modeling,
improvisation can count for as much or even more
than pre-rehearsals. The model our collective
essays suggest to us in a way for approaching the, ooh, that’s me, for approaching the study of governance in Chinese context today, therefore is that of a
work, always in progress, a work in perpetually uneven flow, sometimes interrupted, winding,
and backtracking around obstructions, sometimes even
splitting or parting ways to head off in divergent
directions from a single juncture. So, to govern China now, our
collection of essays suggest is to meander, just as
this talk has meandered, and I have meandered, I’m lost
in space much of the time. It is a multi-stranded process
which privileges nimble-ness, mutability, and an openness
to institutional invention and procedural change, both proactive change and reactive change. Protean qualities such
as these are not the ones that most of us would associate, either with the functioning of rootinized, elite-managed, authoritarian
political systems, or with the prevailing political
rhythms that characterize or are supposed to
characterize institutionalized electoral and rule of law
based democratic systems. Yet they seem to us now to
capture well that condition of unceasing restlessness which
we see is so characteristic both of those who are striving to govern and of those being
governed in China today. I will stop there, and You-tien, turn the podium back to you. (crowd applauding) – Thank you. Thank you very much, Vivienne, for this very wonderful, innovative talk. I have to admit as a geographer, these maps and rivers look
particularly, you know, close to my heart. Thank you. So our discussant today,
Professor Kevin O’Brien, again, another person really doesn’t need lengthy introduction, just a few words. Professor Kevin O’Brien is a
professor of political science and Director of Institute
of East Asian Studies here on campus. He’s also a very, very productive writer. Numerous pieces and books on
China’s legislative politics, local election, and popular protests and policy implementation. He has published several very
influential books, including “Reform Without Liberation: “China’s National People’s Congress and “the Politics of Institutional
Change”, and also, “Rightful Resistance in Rural China”. His most recent work
centers on the Chinese state and the theories of popular contention. Without further ado, Kevin. (crowd applauding) – Like Vivienne and You-tien,
I’m a fan of maps as well. Going back at least as far as
one of Vivienne’s colleagues at Yale, when I was taking
his classes from Ed Tufte on the visual display of
quantitative information. I think the reason I know
nothing about regression or quantitative analysis is because when I was doing the class with him, the only thing we ever heard
about was data-to-ink ratio, and things like that. But it was a wonderful time was when he was putting those books together that have become so
influential since then. If any of you haven’t
seen a particular good map that’s related to water and land, there was one in The Sunday
Times this week that showed water as democratic puns
in the recent election, and vast swaths of land
as republican strongholds, and the interesting thing about this map is that it was still very
recognizable as a map of the United States
when you just took out these very few democratic strongholds and turned them into water. So it was quite striking and very much in the Tufte tradition. On to Vivienne’s talk, like
many of the best presentations, this is ultimately talk more
about questions than answers, in particular asking the right questions, and at a certain level of analysis. And this is an issue that’s
become pressingly urgent, as in this last week in the
study of American politics. But it’s also something
that we need to think about much more in the field of China studies, where many of us go our merry way, gathering data, qualitative
or quantitative, and don’t think often enough
about what all that data is about, and whether it’s what
truly should be focusing on. Someone like our other
former Yale colleague’s, Jim Scott’s work on
legibility and how states see the territorial and
people they can control, Vivienne tells us we should be
thinking more about planning in the first half of the talk, and its still massive scope
in contemporary China. She wants us to think about a
wildly ambitious master plan that cleaves the country
into zones and functions. And despite some admirable
attention to balance in the plan, at least for me, now there
were some very worrying language about engineering-like
notions of optimization and prioritization and
restriction that show that top-down ways of thinking
are very much alive in the minds of people not
that many generations away from central planning, and the
whole nation as a chessboard. Anyone who’s ever been
to a Chinese village and seen the disarray often found there in how they’re laid out can be imposed to a little bit of zoning, but it’s striking that the plan, at least in the parts I read, didn’t sound like it was organic at all. And it has a whiff of the
hubris that has got planners into trouble in China
and lots of other places over the years. And likewise, it’s wonderful
to hear about ecology as a pillar of planning,
especially here in a country where climate change is now
said to be a Chinese hoax by our President-Elect, and
a climate change denier is busy staffing the EPA as we speak, but I still wonder a
bit about the scientism and the best practice
managerialism that underlies some of what’s being proposed. It can’t help but remind
me of Silicon Valley techno-optimism, and that data
science will solve everything and maybe set its free
ethos that’s sweeping campuses like this today. And speaking along those lines, I was at a recent meeting of
our research directors here, and somebody who was
working on data science had actually come up with a map of campus and put X’s on every
building that was gonna be influenced by data science– (crowd laughing) And there were precious few buildings that were not included in
that map of precisely this. So sure, it’s good to have
maps and plans to think about order, harmony and comprehensiveness, and dreams and visions
of the future are great and can play a role in agenda setting and pointing a way forward, but I’m not so sure
that these maps will get all concerned parties on the same page, or that normatively, we
should hope that they will. I agree these maps are not just for show, and are undoubtedly a
leadership instrument, but I guess what gets me, after being a mid-level
administrator here for a while is just how wrong-headed
most higher-ups are about most things. And how hard it is for them
to believe that free energy and initiative can come
from below as well as above. So I’m absolutely with Vivienne
that mapping and planning are leadership instruments,
but I’m also taken, I guess this is more
of a normative comment, about how they can be
wrong-headed exercises in so many ways. Now Vivienne may well agree with this, and I haven’t had a
chance to read the chapter in the forthcoming book that
likely deals with these issues, so I don’t put this forward as a critique, just as a friendly amendment
or observation, or reaction. As for the second part of Vivienne’s talk, evolutionary biology has been seductive to political scientists for a long time, as least since when I
was in graduate school reading Stephen Krasner on sovereignty, and it’s been seductive
in both since Dawkins’ highly functional variety
or the Stephen Jay Gould way of thinking about randomness and making the best a species can make on what it started with,
that’s been floating around for 30 or 40 years. I too am concerned with the functionalism of much recent work on China that threatens to become,
as structural functionalists were long-critiqued for doing, presenting a complacent
commentary on the status quo. I agree politics in the future
are much messier than that, and that teleology is a real peril, and the unanticipated is so
often where there action is, I’ll point to last Tuesday again for that. But theorizing about the
unanticipated and undetermined is no easy job. Much like Niels Bohr
said about prediction, that predicting is difficult,
especially about the future. Where do you start? Vivienne says rivers, and their tributaries coming in and out. It’s a nice image, I like it. But I think there’s some
inherent issues in it too, which I’ll be curious
to see how the chapters in the volume address. How can we tell what’s the
main stream from that picture? And which tributaries are
coming in and strengthening, or going out, and weakening? I always think that historians
have such an advantage over political scientists, because they know what
comes next, and we don’t. The simultaneity she mentions,
which seems just right, makes this task even harder. So someone like me who works
on protests and repression, is this part of the main stream? Or is it a tributary
wandering off to no end? Right now, I can’t tell. And even before I read this paper, this is something I’ve
wondered about for a long time, and don’t know how to begin
to resolve in real time. So instead, I just go on studying my flow, and hope it’s part of the main stream, or at least a tributary flowing in. But I’m perfectly ready
in the long run to learn it was a stream flowing out that dried up and didn’t amount to much of anything. But the usual river image, at
least in my single-minded way of thinking of hydrology had just limits, and this is what Vivienne
was telling us about, as she points out, contemporary
evolutionary thinking looks at lines that branch out, and then re-fuse, once again,
with the passage of time. Like glacial flows, the
tributaries may wander off and then come back. So protests and repression
in China, my example, may divert energy and
become less important, and then add energy, and
become more important at a later date. Or maybe a number of small
streams will work their way down off the glacier, vaguely,
alongside themselves. Meandering sounds right to me, and cuts against the planning images brought up in the first part of the talk. But one of the questions I’m left with is, is there still a main stream? Or many indeterminate
large and small streams, flowing downwards? Now, either seems perfectly possible. But I still think for
theorizing sorting out the main stream comes in
and what it comes to be is something that we need
to be thinking about. And otherwise, I’m a little afraid that when we look at an image like this, or at least somebody like me
looks at an image like this and I’m tempted to throw up my hands and just say, “It’s
complicated, it’s indeterminate, “it’s multivalent, it’s beyond
my ability to comprehend.” But I may be getting a
little off track here. I’ve been assuming the meandering was what we were trying to understand. But then by the end of presentation, the meandering seems to characterize how governing takes place. Now I’m not sure which
one of these Vivienne was talking about. Now, Mao once criticized
exams as surprise attack. Like teachers, discussants
have one advantage; We get to launch surprise attacks. For the first time in my entire career, I’ve thrown away that advantage, and I sent Vivienne my
comments beforehand. So, she can have ample time to shred them and convince all of you
how misguided they are. So I’ll stop right here
and see if she wants to put me back in my place,
like I was in a seminar 35 years ago. (crowd lightly laughing) – I want, thank you, Kevin.
(crowd applauding) Thank you. All right, I want to
say, a profound thank you for having the grace to send
me these comments ahead of time and to be that organized
in the middle of everything that’s going on, to get
me some written comments, and I promise to be quite brief, and I thank you for the
comments themselves. First of all, thank you for
pointing out that I do think that we should be thinking a
whole lot more about planning when we think about how China works. I so much think that, that I
forget to mention it sometimes, and yes, I think that’s
still an extremely important dimension of governance,
though we talk much less about it now than we used to. But, Kevin says he’s worried
by some of the language, and engineering-like
notions of optimization, prioritization, restriction. Yes indeed, these are top-down
ways of thinking, all right. And I chose those words
because I hoped to trigger that kind of worry in your minds. But I think I would just say, I mean, I do mean us to
recognize this for what it is. We’ve seen this before, many times, and we should be very
appropriately suspicious of it and where it may lead, and
the ways in which it may fail. I would just say here that I
think this has more in common with World Bank think, and Asian development bank, urban modern Asian futures,
urban planning thinking, than it does with the
whole country as a chess, as a single chessboard
or anything resembling the old state socialist balance planning. That’s where most of these ideals and that managerialism and best practice are more derived from, I think. Kevin says he’s not so
sure that they will succeed through the maps of getting
all concerned parties on the same page. Of course they won’t, and
there are reports that are coming out now, and
quite good ones I think, from Chinese sources that
tell us about the struggles, I mean everything from
poaching to local officials breaking the rules and making agreements to allow tourists into their
restricted areas and so on in numbers that these areas can’t sustain, it goes on and on in the national parks. Of course, they won’t
succeed in getting everyone, I think they know they won’t. What I wanted to draw
attention to simply is how important it still
is to them to try hard to get all people on the same page, all concerned parties on the same page. We don’t see that in a great
many other political systems, and it remains a hallmark
of the way in which the Chinese Communist
Party still wants to lead. Theorizing about the unanticipated
and the indeterminate is no easy job, Kevin says. Yes, indeed. And that’s why I do think, if we accept that the
future is indeterminate and unpredictable, then
I do think that we need to be thinking much more
in our social sciences about what tools and
which data we would need to be able to attempt to think in this way about the future, and
what is unanticipated. What would we have to have? This scan done, and these chapters is, tells us about lots of
different domains of politics and political practice, and
what would it take to do, not just a scan, not just an introduction, but a serious analysis
over this broad a panorama, that’s what I hope the book might trigger serious students to consider. I’m not sure, Kevin, how
to answer your question about the main stream, and
what is or isn’t in it, because I see that as something, I can cheat actually, I
had one more (chuckles) I had more slide that I didn’t use. – [Kevin] That’s not a bad answer. – [Vivienne] Yeah. (crowd lightly laughing) What the slide shows I think is that our rivers can travel, our
braided rivers can travel quite a long distance,
never coming together into a main stream. And I mean, I think what that– – [Kevin] But there is
a main direction to it. – Yes there is, it’s down. And these rivers do end in
lakes, or they end in seas. That they share in common, but how they do it is very different. Some of them fan out into
enormous, muddy deltas. Others of them pour in, pretty directly, in the kind of stream you
like, all one, all in one. And that’s–
(crowd laughing) That is what happens in nature. What happens in human life, we don’t know. I see this as something we
have to be prepared to watch as it changes, and probably for
quite a long period of time, and this question about
what’s the main stream, and what’s gonna end up in it, and what’s gonna end up
being, you know, lost, dry up somewhere and go into
the atmosphere as steam, I think it stems from our
natural yearning to be able to predict outcomes. But the imperative to
predict is, in my own view, greatly overemphasized in
modern political studies. The braided river metaphor anyway is not one to help us predict outcomes, nor is it designed to be. It’s a metaphor only, only, it’s a metaphor only, it’s not a model. It’s one that I think
may aid and inspire us when we are modeling the tangled processes that contribute to political change. That these processes
may occur in sequence, or they may converge in specific settings over long periods of time. It’s a metaphor intended
to help us conceptualize political change as an assemblage, or an interlacing, interacting
set of social energies, as opposed to a single
pathway toward the future. It’s a metaphor that would help us. Another one might be blended
instrumental ensemble music, rather than a solo or a duet. And from the kitchen,
another metaphor might be political change is a ragu,
it’s not a lamb chop, okay? (crowd lightly laughing) That’s, is it for me to stand
here now and take questions? Okay. Do I call? Yes, Lin? – [Lin] This is wonderful. It’s really wonderful research. I wonder, to what extent is
the braided river normative, or just realistic? One can actually often see,
for example, in this slide, some of the streams, I
mean I can draw it there, which are larger than others. There is no single main stream, but your thinking is like
that of many others that try, that have tried to deal
with difficult to predict kinds of situations in the China field. Of course, there are
relations to Jim Scott, but also Scott Boorman and his, I don’t know whether you’ve
tried to bring this in, but his interest in Mao Tse Tung’s “Wei-ch’i Interpretation
of Revolutionary Strategy” for an end, for you know,
a consequence that he, that Mao wanted, but there’s
very little in social science that is like what you’re calling for, and that’s why what you’re
doing is so interesting. The chapters are organized
by sizes of collectivity, essentially, I think. I mean, center, middle-sized,
and more individual or, but also to some extent by
time, and also to some extent by functions in a general meaning, not relating that too
tightly to systems theory. But what some of the
things you’re dealing with are very similar to what I
think of Chaos Theory in which, and you referred to
this explicitly I think, initial changes in some,
differences in some variables will affect later results
differently, maybe, at different, later
times, very importantly. And that’s my question. Which aspects of China should
we be most looking at for differences that become
consequential in that way? – That I think is, yeah, what I hope that the future researchers
will be inclined to ask and investigate, to take the
example that Kevin raised, for example, protest and
repression of protest, I think there’s very little
doubt in my mind that that’s a realm of politics that’s, we can count on being quite important. It may be more important at
certain times than others, obviously it is, but it’s a realm, a domain of political
expression and governance that is going to be a factor in
almost any political system, whether it’s authoritarian,
or it’s democratic, or it’s somewhere in between. And that is something that
Jim Scott has told us, there is always dissent, there is always a hidden transcript, even if it’s quite suffocated
at times, it is there, and it has its impact. But the ways in which
it works can often be, can often be long in coming,
and uneven in their coming. And I think that’s the only
answer I can give, I mean, that I suppose I am asking
people to be more patient in their expectations of this pace of change. It always seems to me that
political scientists are most guilty of this. They expect so much to change
in a very quick period of time and of course, sometimes it can, I mean, this is a little bit, this is
during a dry season, right? During the spring flood,
this whole valley here is gonna be one big main stream. But that doesn’t last forever, right? And you can almost argue that, hmm, what’s left now in the dry period shows us some of the
deeper underlying channels that have been carved in the
past, and will still be there, influencing currents of the
water underneath in the future. And that kind of, with
that kind of approach, in the back of our minds, as I said, this is not a model
that’s going to, you know, produce a conclusion about anything, it is only a habit of thinking
about how change occurs that it seems to me could be refreshing, and I hope that some students
may take this and think about, “Well, which are the
domains that are important? “I think I know some, let me
try to analyze and investigate “their components and how
practice occurs in those domains “right now”, and do the kind of work, whether it’s qualitative or quantitative, that will elucidate that question. And fill in the blanks for us. Let’s see, yes, I saw a hand here. Sorry I don’t– – [Male Crowd Member] Thank
you for a great presentation, I really liked all of it. My question is about the very first part, and that is, it does like a
very top-down type of approach in terms of the overall plan. How much feedback has there
been from local levels? How much buy in, how much push back? How much of all of this is, you know, people are aware of this
at the local levels? Are they in favor of it? In terms of your own awareness of, say, local level responses, are
people generally aware of it? Are they in favor of it? Or is just another project
by the suits from Beijing? – One of the ways that we could approach answering that question,
and it’s, you know, a very interesting question
is going to have to be tracked over a long period of time, because this is a long-term spatial plan, it’s going to take decades
to work its way through. And these have been the first
very rough years, I think. But if we look, after the
national master plan came out, then the next step was for every province to make its own master plan in accordance with the national zones
that are in those maps. And I think if we look at the provinces which have been able to develop their own master plans in this interim, since 2011, to the present,
and have gotten them approved by the NDRC and the State Council, we can see two kinds of provinces. The first are the ones
like Guangdong Province, where development was
slated to be optimized and go ahead full steam, and it must have been
easy in that province, relatively easy, to fall in line with what was being asked for. And in those provinces where
things are going to be good, and it’s all gonna be high-tech,
and optimized, and modern, I think we get a quick ascent, at least from the provincial level. It still has to be fought down, fought all the way down, so the consequences of
these zones, these maps, have to be worked out so
that at the bottom, you know, any place that is planned
literally will have to be fit for zoning block by
block, right, in new towns, so we’ve still got a very long way to go, even in those places. The other category I think, and I’m still trying to add
up the evidence on this but, the other category of province where acquiescence was relatively easy, surprisingly enough is those
areas with some of the most fragile ecosystems, where
I think the most research was already carried out and
the conversation efforts are really comprehended by local, that is, by provincial official, to be
really, really important to do for their province over the long run. And so some of those like Heilongjiang, where their vast forests that
are just not to be developed, and so on, that’s, they’ve been approved. In the middle, where restrictions
and other prohibitions and small regions are under consideration, the evidence is very much
as you would suspect, that this takes a long
process of negotiation. Wang Yiming said at that
meeting that I went to, and it’s in my chapter but
I didn’t get to put it in this talk, he was asked by some of
the student bureaucrats in the audience, “So, you know,
aren’t they going to just, “I mean, down at local levels, “they’re going to just
not go along with this? “They’re going to resist, of course. “And what are you going to give them?” And he said, “Oh, no, no, no, no. “They may try to resist, but in the end, “they’re going to have to agree “because this is going to be the law. “It is the law, and
they will have to obey. “Oh of course, we’ll need
to negotiate”, he said. “We’ll have to drink a
lot of liquor with them”– (crowd lightly laughing) “In order to come to an agreement”, even if it’s a somewhat fuzzy one. And he estimated it would
take the whole of the first Five-Year Plan just to
drink all that liquor and get through the first
negotiations, right? And they hemmed and hawed. The students weren’t completely
mollified, they said, “Well, you may get agreements, “but they may still go
back on them later on, “they’ll find ways around, “and they’ll be able to infringe
upon these important areas, “ecologically-protected areas.” And he said, “Oh no they won’t, “because satellite
observations will reveal “anything that’s happening
that shouldn’t be happening.” Which was slightly exaggerated, I think, about what could happen. But I think we can be sure
that there is all kinds of transgression and all kinds of stalling, and that’s why so much
money is going into this. That’s why the central government
is dishing so much cash into these regions. That isn’t to say that that
isn’t often a big waste too, so it bears tremendous watching, and it it something that we do need to be highly suspicious of in a way, but also, it’s hard not to wish them
a certain amount of success. I don’t feel, I don’t take a
normative position on this, can I say? I mean, I do think these
are the good men, you know, in the Indians’ terms,
they think of themselves as good men, who’ve had a good
dream of a heavenly future, and they worked hard on their truth, and it is in some way a truth. And they may get to the dream
kill through another pathway, if they get there at all, but that’s what, that’s what we’re looking at. We’re looking at people
who are trying to lead in the bright direction with, only after all computer projections
and models to depend on. But that’s their truth for the moment. Are there, are there questions? Do I see any other hands? Yes, Mark? – [Mark] Thanks very much Vivienne, I love this approach of combining ecology and geography, and I think it, because I think it speaks to the heart of the contemporary crisis,
which means that we have to, that the Chinese have to,
and we have, analyzing them, have to re-conceptualize
the whole foundations of development in a period in
which development also means death by asphyxiation
and destroying the land and destroying the water and so forth. But I want to come to the issues
that you’re now discussing that Kevin’s raising and
you’re responding to here, and that really is, is politics, which somehow is, in the talk itself, is in the background but I think has to be brought to the fore,
and it is this question; So you have a grand and glorious vision, top-down vision, comprehensive, it feels like socialism, even though China may best be
understood as something like state capitalism at the present time, so the question is, how do
you in fact take this pure, gorgeous vision, and
implement it in ways that not only make it work, but
also work to serve people? And I’m thinking, what
we’ve been writing about in the Asia Pacific Journal,
we took the coal issue, and we have an analyst who
studied China’s coal policy, and he reads their, he reads
their documents very literally, and he comes up with the conclusion that China now has the plan to cut back on coal use to stop being number one in
the world in greenhouse gases, to move toward green energy and so forth, and he writes beautifully
and it’s very persuasive and so on, but what
happens when we get down to the provincial level and we
get down to the local level, and we get down to the
mines where that means, well, it’s exactly the American
political issue now too. Do you close the coal mines,
or do you roar straight ahead to maximize energy production, as we now seem in the
Trump administration, ready to do in the face of
Paris, in the face of green, and so forth? So, I’m not, I hear you when
you say you have a kind of agnostic view, you’re
not taking a position on whether this is gonna work,
even whether it’s going to be worthwhile plans but,
don’t we have to, in fact, especially political scientists, whether they’re scientists or not, engage the political
forces that are gonna run extremely counter? So this is the same question
that the students were asking your guy, I suppose. – Yes, yes of course. Yeah, all our lives,
we’ve known about this, that at the top, these visions
are announced in grand terms, and then, and then all
the way down the line, the politics seeks to undercut,
and they have to try again, and keep coming back to issues. I mean, that’s why they’ve
prepared all of these policies, areas in order to try to
deal with what they knew would be the inevitable opposition. If I were laying odds, given what I know of Chinese politics, I would expect that
progress on this will be slow and halting and easily reversed, easily reversible along the way. So by voicing, giving voice in this, in this talk of mine about the maps to the way the maps are conceived and what their purposes
are thought of in Beijing, I see myself as only giving voice, or only elucidating a governing style. It’s a style of governance that
the Chinese still engage in. It has been updated and
modernized and high-teched, and glossed over with a lot of state capitalist rhetoric, yes, but we’ve seen this
before and we can expect that we will see the same
kinds of local politics act itself out in only
slightly different ways, all the way up and down the system. So you may not hold out tremendous hope for the green outcomes involved here, and you may say, you can be sure one thing
that’s going to happen is a great many people
are going to be uprooted from their homes and shipped out of areas where they’ve been living
because they’re declared to be excess population and resettled in other areas of the country, and it will be very damaging
and hurtful exercises, right? So you can already
easily imagine, I think, all the ways in which this
will be likely to fail, and be only partial in what it achieves, if it is maintainable over
the next, until 2050 or so. Other governments,
future governments might back away from it, we don’t know. This is a meta-metaphor. (chuckles) It is meant to help us not think about what’s gonna happen about
environmental protection in China, per se. That is one of the rivulets, right? That is one of the tributaries. That sphere of politics, coal politics, is one of the domains of politics. Fossil fuel politics generally in China, it’s one of the domains of politics that clearly needs to be unpacked, and if we’re to understand the future. Any students out there
looking for a good project, obviously, that’s a good one. And I think it can be fitted
into this kind of meta-metaphor but that, this is only to help
you locate and think about the positioning of those
different sectors of politics that we need to study
with the same old methods that we’ve always used, I think. And with expectations of some
of the same old outcomes, yes. You-tien? Oh, sorry, sorry, we’ve got, yeah? Angel you’re in charge, okay. – [Angel] Sorry about that. (chuckles) I just had two quick questions
about the map data itself. The map data that you were
looking at, the zones, really? How did they deal with
areas of contention, really? Like near Japan, or in the
South China Sea, or Taiwan? And was there anything about the data that particularly shocked you? – The data? – [Angel] Yeah, the– – Okay, I haven’t examined this, you know, the GIS data or anything like that. What shocked me, many things shocked me, and in the chapter, I talk
about the maps themselves as creations, that it’s as, maybe, did you see, I don’t know whether it’s worth
backing up to some of them, but they are, they are confined to the national land and territory, all of them, and you can see that Japan doesn’t appear, no neighboring countries appear, and they’re as if, there
is actually very little in the way of connection. China appears as an
isolate here, and it is, it’s only these sort of
gentle hues that distinguish different regions that
even hint at the fact that the earth is not flat here, and that, this is not an all
of the piece entity, right? And only a few, and this
map you’ll see only Beijing is starred, really, right? Very few other places appear. And so, this is national
planning on a kind of tabula rasa almost in a way, right? – [Male Crowd Member] Isn’t
it striking that China is the land, and it doesn’t
include the waters — – Yeah. – [Male Crowd Member]
It seems two-factor– – Is the question– – [Male Crowd Member] The
question really is, I suppose. – And in 2013– – [Male Crowd Member]
It’s extraordinary, right? – Yeah, I was coming to that. In 2013 I think it was,
the go ahead was given for carrying out this exercise of zoning on all of China’s
territorial waters as well. It is still in planning. I haven’t seen it, I don’t know
how many people have seen it and I don’t know how far it extends, but I have an idea how far it extends. (crowd laughing) Yes. So we have to wait, we
have to wait to find out. You-tien? Oh, Wen-hsin? – [Wen-hsin] So this is
really an exquisite talk, and it’s fascinating, I find myself still trying to to come to a better grasp
of what you have in mind. But all in all, I think the one word, as a historian, it is the one word that captures my attention
the most is this word, continuous evolution. For you have given us a map, and you’ve, or you’ve given us a
lecture about mapping, and you’ve shown us dynamics, power dynamics across space, that it’s contiguous, it’s connected, it’s contingent, and they converge. But in what way do they
constitute this concept, or do they relate to this
concept of continuous, for the continuous, or continuity, with a trajectory in time
appears to be the one thing that you are actually seeking to reject, or at least, to destabilize, that is to have this
whole concept broken down into small units of analysis, right? So in some ways, my question
is actually comparable, or resonates with Lin’s
question earlier on. My question is simply
that how this one account for the happening, which is, which is taking place across this map, if continuity, when it comes
to consolidation of power, concentration of power, or
trajectory of things over time, if that is not to be a key player, if those factors are not
going to be key players, or critical factors, helping
to account for the happening, then how do we go about
thinking about the happening? I suppose, this is a
convoluted question but, in some ways, it’s a historian’s
question to a presentation which says a lot about space. But I’m also interested in
the question of continuity in time. – Okay, that might be one
way to interpret the word continuous, all right? I didn’t think of that. What I had in mind was a
somewhat self-indulgent memory of, does anybody
remember continuous revolution? Still? Remember that idea? That idea of continuous
revolution, which by the way, was something that was
taught to me here at Berkeley by someone named John Brian Stock, who was faculty many a year ago, who analyzed that concept. And that was very important
during the cultural revolution, for those of you who don’t
know it particularly. Traces its roots to Trotsky, and a certain branch of
socialist thinking about pushing the revolution ever forward. That I changed it to continuous evolution, and I really only had in mind
not continuity with the past, though you’re very right Wen-hsin, that I want to emphasize
that this occurs over a long, this process that we need
to grasp over very long periods of time. And some of those channels have
been dug in to the substrate by previous events. You can consider them, if you like, as more structuralist language, as continuing to structure,
or carrying on into the future events that occurred in the
past and left their mark. So there is continuity
in this image as well. But I think what I was
stressing was more that this is continuous process of
change and remaking as well. It mixes both, perhaps. As I should say history does, right? I think, I think so. Who am I, You-tien? – [You-tien] Okay, yeah. Vivienne this, I assume, is one national plan that you picked to focus on. And because we know there
are also several other major national plans, notably the one done by the construction, the Ministry of Construction. (speaking foreign language) And they did all these national
urban development plans, and there is another important one by the Ministry of Resource, Resource and Environment Planning. (speaking foreign language) Environment and Resource. And they do the old, they
use planning every year, and they do, they use quota, you know, from the top to the bottom, and there is another one done
by the Ministry of Forestry, mapping out entire nation’s
national resources, and also most importantly,
natural disaster zones, the areas that needs to be focused on. I wonder, you know, if there
is main stream, you know, tributary question. What happened when there
are many main streams? And what happened when your, you know, when we talk about performance, there are many performance, you know, competing with one another, doing their own version and in mentioning of a national development plan. How do we, you know, sort of
take that into our analysis? – Yeah, this is something
that I haven’t studied, but it is very important. My guess about what happens
with those plannings, since they are all official, and they are all approved
at very high levels, is that there has to be a
congruence at every step of the way, so the plan that
the environment industry, and the plan that the
urbanization, the construction, and the new urban plan,
urbanization plan, all of that has to be in sync with this
general overall master plan. This is my understanding of this. So when it comes to land, and
soon when it comes to water, what can happen has to be
congruent with this plan, which has now been enacted by the NPC. So it is the law of the land. And it’s been backed up
by a new environmental protection law in the interim also, which is part of the project, so the goal will be to get
all of these official national projections to be congruent, one with the other. Again, again, we can expect this
not to happen in perfection. It may be very far from perfection. What fascinates me is the
intent to make that happen. And this may speak to
Wen-hsin’s point also that what is the happening? The happening is, is a interaction between the envisioning and the
enforcement, and the forced, the forced coordination that
is attempted at the center, with the reality of all of
that substrate that’s out there which is in the way and which,
you know, in its own way also conditions the
reality that finally occurs and that we see in the flowing, the flowing of the process. What I’m saying to
political scientists here is that if we can study some of those flows, just the flowing of the process, which is sort of like
manageable for a dissertation or something like that, you know? Find a flow and look at
it closely and see where you can make a contribution, and then see where it might
fit in such a complicated imagining of the political change process, then for one thing, it would take the burden of
a good deal of prediction off your back. And it would also I think help you steer away from hasty final answers to where we are, or where we are going, which is something else
that political science, not only in the China field
has been prone to, yeah? So– – [Male Crowd Member] My turn? – Are there more questions? Yes, Joe? – [Female Crowd Member] Wait, wait, can Joe ask a question and
then I will come after? – Okay, I keep jumping out of order. – [Male Crowd Member] So a
question of clarification. I think the way I understood
your paper at first was that the maps that you’re showing
are slightly different from the maps of the, the logic of these maps
is slightly different from the logic of a
completely planned economy, is that right? Because at some point you
said they were influenced by the World Bank and the ADB? – Yes. – [Male Crowd Member] And then, but during question and answer, you said that the changes
or the differences were only cosmetic, which
then seemed to suggest that they were still part
of the same old plan, the economy kind of thing. – No, I don’t think I ever
used the word cosmetic. What are you referring to, exactly? – [Male Crowd Member] No, no,
I mean, so if that’s the case, then these not significantly different, then it suggests a
different model of power, which is what I think
you’re trying to suggest with all these flow-y kinds of models. But the question that I had is, when I look at some of the terminology, especially in the third part of the book, the person that leaps out
most to me is Foucault, the stuff about, you know,
techniques of the self and so on, so how much of all of this
and the suggestion that these are different approaches to take, how much of this falls under what Foucault called the governmentalization
of the state? – Yeah. (chuckles) There’s one thing, is
my chapter in the book, which is all about the
maps, and that’s mine. And that, it was the
first part of the lecture. The other thing is the
book, and the book is not, and Kevin said he’d like to
see how the other chapters address the model. They don’t. So, I hope you’ll buy the book anyway, (crowd lightly laughing)
but they don’t. The model came from the chapters. It came from our reading and thinking about what the chapters had to teach. So the chapters, including
the ones on governmentality, and there’s really only
one on governmentality, and that’s the final one
which is about ways of governing the governors, you can say. Ways of getting cadre
officials to try to behave in accord with new expectations
of excellent performance, and one of the ways to
do that is to get them to internalize in themselves a
tremendous will to improve and to innovate, and that’s
what that chapter is about. So it’s just one tiny dimension
of the governmentality reign domain of governing practices in China. The other two in that
section are really not about what I would consider Foucault analysis at all. They really are about the manipulations of class categories and class identities, and the reclassification
of people in a period that is ongoing where people are thought of and think of
themselves, to a degree, in new categories of citizenry. And those are, those are
about governing people, rather than governing communities
or governing each other. So I’m not sure I quite
understood your question, but the essays in this book were
gathered as a first scan, as I said, and we thought
we’d see what was out there. After we saw these fascinating
studies of different domains of the processes of
governing, then we thought, well how do we characterize this? And was our idea of a repertoire
really the best way to go? And if not, what’s wrong with it, and why is it inadequate, and what can we do, what can we suggest to
reduce that they take away from reading all the essays in this book? That’s the actual structure
of it, of the argument, yeah. And now, Joe. (Joe chuckles) – [Joe] I guess this is sort of becoming a two-part question. First, on the issue of maps, and maps as a mode of governing, I’m mostly struck by how
new this is as someone who for the first time, I was
doing research on local societies in China, was
bringing my own maps to China and local officials would say, “Where the hell did you get that?” And, “How did you know that
village?”, and something, and maps had always
been regarded as such a, an object of security control, and now to actually be
trying to govern by maps, and making the public and
then debating about them, it seems to me to really
something quite new in the 21st century. But the second question is, I’m having problems as others have with, I think the meander metaphor, and especially the meander
metaphor as a way of interpreting politics. The meander, whatever you do, the water is still gonna flow down. And so it is gonna go in
a consistent direction. But my sense of, you know,
the way something like this is gonna work in Chinese politics is the national government, after a certain amount of consultation, is gonna come out with this
wonderful national plan, and it’s gonna then take it
down to the provinces and say, “This is the zone for
industry and agriculture”, and the province say,
“Well, we can’t do that, “or we can’t do this, you
know, you’re gonna fudge it “this way and that way.” And then you’re gonna take
it down to the local level, the provincial people can take
it down to the local level and they’re gonna say, “Oh,
we can’t do this and that, “we have to”, and there’s
gonna be resistance at each level of the hierarchy, but it’s a hierarchical
system in which the center is pushing a plan and local
areas are resisting it in ways that you can’t quite resist
the flow of water downhill. And, you know, there are some
places where, “No”, you know, “We’re not gonna do agriculture here, “we’re gonna do something else
because we need the industry “and we need”, so, I mean,
how do you, you know, square this circle of the meander metaphor with a certain inevitable, Kevin’s main stream going downhill? – Do you mean that– – [Joe] And my sense of the
way the politics are working and the resistance coming– – And your sense of the way
the politics is working is that the pressure is coming
from above, and that, did I understand you? Okay, the pressure’s coming from above, and that is the policy will flow downhill. The water, yeah, okay. Yeah, no– – [Joe] We’re talking about
authoritarian systems– – No, yeah, no I don’t think, the pressure definitely comes from above, but there is always
resistance, as we know, as well as accident and all
other kinds of limitations. And that is, that is what
determines the flow, right? I mean, the shape of the
final process of getting to a political conclusion. In the downhill imagery of this, it is gravity that is time, okay? To move from water to politics, it’s gravity that is
drawing the water down to its destination. But we can conceive of
that as change over time. So what I see in the
weaving, interweaving, or the interlacing of the
flows within the riverbed is the courses that, the
tortured courses, if you will, that need to be carved out in the process over time of getting to whatever the conclusion is. I am less concerned about predicting, I guess that’s obvious, and so I am content with
all sorts of contingency and unanswered questions. I find it quite the natural thing to do. I know that others cannot abide it, and so I’m not surprised. We’ve tried to solve the
puzzles that we encounter. But my honest view is that
this is what change looks like. And it proceeds through time in these twisting, interlaced ways, and
that’s what I’m saying. So the politics that you are asking about, the resistance is, can you go with me that that’s the substrate,
that’s what’s down there, that the flow from the
top is encountering and, as a result, it will be
twisted and it will be bent and it will sometimes work
and other times dry up and go away and fail, and that the final outcome that we see in 2050 or 2060 or 2075, if
we make it there, is that, will be the result, the
residuum of all of that flow and resistance flow and resistance, all of that politics
that occurs on the floor of this river of change. – [Joe] That was an answer. I think perhaps it allows me
to specify what my problem is. What is the political
equivalent of gravity? – Time. Time, time, time.
– Okay– (crowd laughing)
– Time. – [Joe] Thank you. – Wonderful, I think
that is a wonderful last question and answer. I want to thank you all for coming, and thank you Vivienne and thank you Kevin for a wonderful
correspondence and discussion. Thank you all, thank you. – It was great pleasure. (crowd applauding)

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