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Yuefan Xiao

I was a doctoral candidate at Warwick between 2008 and 2013. I graduated with a PhD in Politics and International Studies in January 2014. My PhD thesis, entitled 'The politics of crisis management in China' is available from Warwick's institutional repository at
http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/58953/

Here is an abstract of my PhD thesis


This thesis investigates how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has tactically managed and defused major crises between 2002 and 2008 which put its credibility and legitimacy to the test. Contrary to conventional wisdom that major crises are likely to challenge and threaten regime stability in authoritarian systems or even undermine their viability, this thesis argues that the CCP has managed to sustain its political hegemony to date through the manipulation of these major crises and through the maximum tinkering with the current political system it reigns over. In order to explain why manipulation is the key in the CCP’s successful crisis management, this thesis first develops a critical reassessment of the conception of crisis and elaborates on crisis’s tripartite political utilities. These are (a) shift the dominating paradigm, (b) centralise political power and (c) (re) gain popularity and legitimacy. These altogether form an analytical framework for crisis, which is followed by a chapter that sets the backdrop against which our case studies unfold and explains why the Chinese context is particularly favourable for crisis manipulation. The thesis then proceeds with three case studies: the 2003 SARS epidemic, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the Sanlu milk scandal occurred in the same year. The thesis suggests that although the CCP’s responses were not flawless, and not always timely, it managed to manipulate all three crises in its favour via the aforementioned political utilities and subsequently defused these crises. At the same time, its Leninist structure was able to unleash formidable mobilisation capacity to help the regime rapidly bring situations under control. Overall, the CCP’s crisis management efficacy was satisfactory in the short term. Nevertheless, the thesis concludes that despite the short term usefulness of crisis manipulation, in the long term the efficacy of the same strategy as well as the political utility of crisis are decaying, as illustrated in reference to more recent crises that stretched the CCP’s credibility. Therefore, the CCP is in need of embarking on substantive political reform in order to develop an alternative crisis displacement mechanism. This thesis makes an original contribution to the existing literature in the field. It complements the public administration and public management literature by bringing politics back in. It also updates the empirical knowledge base of past studies as well as offering a comparison of crisis responses. This is a timely contribution to the study of Chinese crisis management and to the study of the nature of Chinese politics          




 

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Yuefan Xiao

yuefan dot xiao at warwick dot ac dot uk