Building the post 1949 State in China and Taiwan: Bureaucratic, Campaign, and Performative Modalities

Colloquium | March 5 | 4-6 p.m. | Institute of East Asian Studies (Golden Bear Center, 1995 University Ave., 5th floor), IEAS Conference Room

 Julia C. Strauss, Professor of Chinese Politics, University of London

 Brooks Jessup, Visiting Lecturer, Department of History, UC Berkeley

 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

By the late 1950s, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (ROC) stood as exemplars of success for both “revolutionary” and “conservative” variants of the modern state. However, in 1949 these two regimes had an overlooked yet substantial amount in common in structure and state building agendas. Both were highly militarized Leninist single party states that needed to simultaneously create effective state institutions, dispatch political enemies, establish the prerequisites for the modernization of the economy, and mobilize support in areas where their connections to local society were weak to non-existent. Juxtaposition of the PRC in Sunan (Southern Jiangsu) with the ROC in Taiwan, illustrates that each relied on a fluctuating mix of bureaucratic and campaign modalities to implement similar policies each deemed essential to state building – the dispatch of enemies of the state, and the implementation of land reform. However, the ways in which campaigns against subversives and for land reform were publicly performed pointed to key differences in each’s core values, how it represented itself, and how it attempted to generate legitimacy. In Sunan campaigns were deployed in a highly public way that erased intermediary organizations between state and society, encouraged violent “high tides”, and required a mobilized public to emotionally merge with the state in excising enemies from the body politic. Conversely, campaigns in Taiwan were implemented and justified in a manner that stressed law, procedure, and gradualist technocracy. These early modalities of policy implementation continued to structure state building and policy implementation long after these early years of regime consolidation.