China’s Rigid Stability – Yu Jianrong 于建嵘 analyses a predicament

In November 2012, Foreign Policy named Yu Jianrong 于建嵘 one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers and described the famous scholar who works in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing as a ‘rare Chinese academic who has taken up the challenge of defining how exactly China could change course’. In his recent writings, Yu reflects both upon social stability 社会稳定 and reform – two equally beloved concepts of the Chinese party-state.

Professor Yu Jianrong.

‘Social stability’ is the most pressing socio-political issue driving the governance agenda in China today. It is generally understood to refer to the political and social security that accompanies orderly and stable social relations within communities and between individuals and the state at large. The imperative of stability maintenance stems from the anxieties and uncertainties of the party-state, which fears that destabilizing social activities may threaten not only the success of China’s economic agenda but also, more crucially, political stability and, ultimately, the very survival of the Party and the People’s Republic China as it is presently constituted. Growing social dissent has seriously called into question the capacity of the Chinese Communist Party to manage China’s society efficiently and effectively, while, at the same time, preserving control over it in a legitimate fashion.

In the last twenty years, collective resistance to the powers-that-be has been growing rapidly both in scale and intensity. It is estimated that in just fifteen years the number of mass incidents has increased ten times – from 8,700 in 1993 to 180,000 in 2011. People take to the streets to complain against forceful land grabs, house demolitions and environmental pollution. Increasingly aware of their rights, citizens demand fair wages and vocally fight against rampant corruption, abuses of power, poor governance and violations of individual rights.

Since the late 1990s, the Chinese party-state has responded to what it perceives as destabilising or potentially destabilising social action – discord, deviance and criminal behavior – by setting political agendas focused on stability maintenance or preservation, weiwen 维稳 (a contraction of 护社会定). (For more on this subject, see Susan Trevaskes, ‘The Ideology of Law and Order‘, Chapter 3 in China Story Yearbook 2012: Red Rising, Red Eclipse, available on this site.—Ed.)

Chinese police training.

Overall, weiwen gives expression to a range of policing methods aimed at preventing, controlling or punishing social dissent and social disorder, particularly petitioning (信访or 上访) and ‘mass incidents’ 群体性事件. In fact, the CCP appears today more worried about expressions of collective discontent than about conventional crime, in particular many argue because social protests produce intense political pressure that bears most heavily on its legitimacy.

According to the CCP’s rhetoric, society should be protected from the effects of instability allegedly created by collective protests and individual petitioning. This defensive action involves a two-pronged approach featuring some of the characteristics of classic Maoist political ideology. First, it entails strong-arm coercive tactics aimed at the minority who are protest ringleaders and, secondly, it emphasises ‘persuasion and education’ for the vast majority of citizens. ‘Coercion, persuasion and education’ is strongly reminiscent of Mao’s theory of contradictions 矛盾理论, which distinguishes antagonistic contradictions between the people and their enemies – to be handled through ‘dictatorship’ (i.e., punishment) – and non-antagonistic contradictions among the people – to be handled through democratic means (persuasion and education). In this context, the law is still used to coerce those who the Party-state considers its enemies. Although mass incidents are officially regarded as non-antagonistic in nature, those who organise protests or defend the organizers can be treated coercively through legal punishment since their relationship with the Party-state may be considered ‘antagonistic’.

Protesters take to the streets.

The following essay by Yu Jianrong, translated by Jason Todd, originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Exploration and Free Views 探索与争鸣 published by the Shanghai Federation of Social Sciences 上海社会科学界联合会. In it the author deftly describes the politically risky approach of pursuing what he calls ‘rigid stability’ 刚性稳定. Ultimately, the stability obsession developed by the Party-state in recent years has served to increase social anomie and contributed to the development of profound social contradictions. Some argue that these very methods at self-preservation are generating the ultimate existential threat to the Party. China’s political fixation with ‘stability at all costs’, Yu argues, breeds rigidity, discourages flexibility and innovation in responding to emerging social problems and, most importantly, hampers the development of more appropriate institutional responses to social conflict.

While the rhetoric of the Party-state emphasizes the promotion of the rule of law and human rights, in practice it still relies on tactics that very often lie outside the limit of legality. Laws applied consistently and correctly, according to clear and precise substantive and procedural rules, would promote public confidence in the government and its judicial organs. According to Yu Jianrong, safeguarding citizen’s rights by reinforcing the authority of legal institutions is the only way forward. By overcoming the obsolete system of ‘rigid stability’ and developing forms of ‘resilient’ and ‘dynamic stability’, the rights of Chinese citizens can be duly protected, social conflicts more effectively resolved and the goals of stability better achieved. Importantly, this implies that stability should not be ‘preserved’ but dynamically ‘created’ according to changing social needs and circumstances.—Susan Trevaskes and Elisa Nesossi



Reassessing Chinese Society’s ‘Rigid Stability’

Stability Preservation Through Pressure,

Its Predicament and the Way Out

Yu Jianrong is the Director of the Social Issues Research Center at the CASS Rural Development Institute


Abstract: China’s particular form of social stability is one of ‘rigid stability’ that is intimately connected with its authoritarian regime. This form of ‘rigid stability’ is maintained via a mechanism of ‘stability preservation through pressure’. In practice, ‘stability preservation through pressure’ is confronted by many challenges, including intensified conflicts of interest, various policy flaws related stability preservation, the development of information technology and increasing rights consciousness among citizens. A new line of thinking is currently needed in regard to stability preservation, with rights protection as its precursor and foundation. ‘Rigid stability’ must give way to ‘resilient stability’, ‘static stability’ must yield to ‘dynamic stability’, and ‘stability preservation’ must become ‘stability creation’.


Key words: rigid stability, stability preservation through pressure, resilient stability, rights protection, stability creation


Stability preservation has been a political buzzword in recent years, appearing with increased frequency in media reports and official documents. On the one hand, this demonstrates the considerable concern that issues of social stability attract from various parts of the society; on the other hand, it also illustrates the increasing pressure that the government faces in maintaining stability. Why is this pressure growing? For this writer, the increase is no doubt related to the deepening of Reform and the various social contradictions and conflicts that have appeared as a result. From another angle, however, it reflects the fundamental institutional weaknesses present in China’s social stability structure and stability preservation apparatus. These problems are primarily manifested in the ‘rigid stability’ of social order and the related implementation mechanism for ‘stability preservation through pressure’.


‘Rigid Stability’ and ‘Stability Preservation through Pressure’


In previous work, the writer has used the term ‘rigid stability’ to summarize the social stability of contemporary China. Founded upon state violence, this form of stability seeks to monopolise political power through control over social ideology and organizations, with a kind of stiff or rigid stability as its primary manifestation. ‘Rigid stability’ has three primary characteristics:

  • First, it is a form of political stability founded upon the exclusive and closed nature of political power;
  • Second, ‘rigid stability’ seeks absolute social tranquility as a goal of governance, viewing all forms of protest – be they marches, demonstrations and strikes by workers, retailers and the transport sector – as a form of disorder and chaos that begs suppression by any means; and,
  • Third, with state violence as its foundation, ‘rigid stability’ relies upon the quasi-legal control of social ideology and social organizations.

In order to achieve and preserve ‘rigid stability’, the authorities seek to strengthen the exclusive and closed aspects of political power and thereby attempt to exercise complete control over society. Because ‘rigid stability’ lacks flexibility, malleability, or any kind of buffer zone, the authorities find themselves in a constant state of high anxiety and spare no expense to maintain their ‘dictatorial’ position. Ultimately, the ever-rising social and political costs of ‘rigid stability’ could lead to the disruption of political rule and social control.[1]


‘Rigid stability’ is centralised and closed, static and unfluctuating, violent and coercive. While to a degree it serves to tame and curtail the political claims of the public, ‘rigid stability’ cannot effectively confer legitimacy upon the political authorities and for this reason it is attended by enormous social risks. The uninhibited, self-interested behavior of the authorities, combined with the problems plaguing efforts to establish basic social rules, has caused a rapid erosion of political legitimacy. In order to guarantee the absolute stability of society, the central leadership has applied constant pressure to every layer of local government and spared no expense to exercise control over society. This is best exemplified by the petitioning system, whose legitimacy springs from Article 41 of the National Constitution and the State Council’s ‘Regulations on Petitioning’. These Regulations grant the public the right to petition higher authorities; in practice, however, local governments consider petitioning to be a prime source of social instability and have adopted a variety of oppressive measures – even going so far as to detain petitioners unlawfully. The contradiction between legality on paper and ‘illegality’ in practice reflects with particular clarity the difficulties presently faced by ‘rigid stability’ policies. Because it lacks elasticity, flexibility, or a buffer zone, and instead marks the result of incessant political pressure to maintain surface stability, ‘rigid stability’ masks huge political hazards. Once the chain of stability preservation is severed, society could well go into free-fall. ‘Rigid stability’ is therefore unsustainable and dependent upon pressure for its short-term maintenance.


It is evident that ‘stability preservation through pressure’ is the mechanism through which ‘rigid stability’ is maintained. The scholar Rong Jingben 荣敬本 once used the expression ‘the pressurised system’ to describe China’s present political system and to explain the ‘state of the leadership’ which exists between a highly centralised central government and the local authorities.[2]


Two different forms of pressure affect political operations in contemporary China. While the first is a form of bottom-up pressure, the second operates like a boomerang – through non-violent means, top-down pressure bounces from the populace directly back to the source of the pressure – the central authorities. The top-down application of pressure by the authorities at the central level leads only to the diversion of this pressure, rather than its dispersion, as the focal point is eventually shifted back to central authorities. ‘Stability preservation through pressure’ is a product of contemporary China’s unique political ecology, one suited to its centralised political structure and incompatible with a ‘normalised’ politics. The mechanism of ‘stability preservation through pressure’ displays the following characteristics:

  • First, it emphasises post hoc management over prevention at the source;
  • Second, it emphasises the grassroots and ‘real combat’;
  • Third, it distorts the system of performance evaluation; and,
  • Fourth, its costs are high and investments in it considerable.[3]

In everyday politics, these characteristics lead various levels of government to pursue stability preservation both as a primary goal of rule and a standard of measuring performance. This, in turn, deeply influences administrative behavior and local political ecologies. Because the goal of stability preservation is intertwined with authoritarian politics, local governments inevitably apply the political logic of ‘the pressurised system’ to their daily work with the end result that ‘stability preservation’ becomes ‘stability at all costs’.


In a nation where legitimacy is not derived from the ballot box, the Chinese central government strives to maintain control over local governments. Thus, the central government must continually and forcefully promote ‘stability trumps all’ as a governing principle in order to safeguard its legitimacy and solidify its rule. This principle of governance has also become the primary standard by which authorities judge the success or the failure of reform and secure public approval. In fact, stability has become the marker of political legitimacy. Consequently, high-handed measures may be more directly effective in the maintenance of political rule as this form of legitimacy is gradually eroded. Faced with multiplying social conflicts, yet devoid of legal channels for their resolution or dissipation, the ready use of high-handed tactics has become the norm at the grassroots as authorities seek to safeguard political stability at all costs. Thus, in many locales, government efforts aimed at stability preservation lie in tension with popular action in the name of rights protection. While the governments are under intense administrative pressure to meet a ‘zero petitions’ target, those whose rights have been violated have no choice but to adopt unconventional methods to break through restrictive regulations. Such contradictions and conflicts are making local governments increasingly anxious.


The Predicament of ‘Stability Preservation through Pressure’


As mentioned, the primary characteristic of ‘rigid stability’ is its goal of monopolizing political power. Indeed, those in power consider the defence of that monopoly as the starting point for all stability preservation policies and measures. In order to achieve this goal, central authorities utilize a form of political contract in which the responsibility for stability preservation is distributed, top-down and level by level, from the center to the local organs and officials of the party-state. Few of these officials can view social conflicts with equanimity or recognize that they have the potential to function as release valves for socio-political pressure. Instead, all is subsumed under the rubric of stability, for which these officials spare no expense. At the same time, lower level authorities control few resources yet face enormous pressure to maintain stability. As a consequence, they increasingly find themselves trapped into a vicious cycle, wherein the harder they strive to preserve stability, the greater the instability they face. This has led to sharpened social contradictions, seen foremost through the following aspects.


First, conflicts of interest have intensified. To satisfy ever-rising fiscal demands, governments have engaged in illegal land expropriation, violent demolition of homes, and rush jobs on countless projects. Since the onset of the period of reforms, China’s social structure and arrangement of interests have experienced profound changes, especially in the wake of a developing market economy. Social classes and social groups have coalesced as interest groups, unleashing a game centered upon the pursuit of self-interest. Professor Sun Liping asserts that the market is not merely a mechanism for economic integration, but also an engine for change in the social structure, as the establishment of the market economy is accompanied by polarization of the social structure and the pluralization of interest groups.[4] As the representative of public authority, it is reasonable to expect the government to protect the rights of all citizens, providing public goods and public services without promoting its own interests. In reality, the government not only has its own interests but also is occasionally quick to utilize the state apparatus in pursuit of those interests at the expense of the people. This is particularly manifest in certain locales, where local governments meet their ever-rising fiscal demands through expropriation, demolition, and rush jobs. These actions violate the interests of the people, frequently triggering petitions and mass incidents.


However, we should not be distraught over these incidents, based as they are on conflicts of interest. Instead, they should be viewed correctly and handled appropriately. These incidents are a form of reactive resistance rather than a proactive challenge to the political order; they are the response of a relatively weaker party – the people – to a loss of its benefits. The appearance of various serious problems, such as mass incidents or other similar occurrences, is not to be feared; what the state should fear the most are the consequences of a social conflict, which if not identified correctly, cannot be handled properly. If handled properly, this sort of conflict of interest may be effectively diffused. In fact, because contemporary China is in the midst of a social transition, this sort of conflict of interest is common, unavoidable, and not without its positive functions. It is impossible for a society to be completely devoid of contradictions and conflicts; the key is simply to confine these challenges within certain limits.


Second, stability preservation policies are flawed. Some locales have adopted illegal measures to preserve stability, intensifying the conflict between governmental and popular behavior. Today’s ‘rigid stability’ takes absolute social tranquility as the goal of governance, viewing all protest behavior as chaos deserving of suppression. Under conditions of ‘rigid stability’, the means of social control are always simple and absolute, and this has led to certain flaws in stability preservation policies. First, some locales consider normal interest articulation to be a destabilizing factor worthy of suppression. Workers, peasants, urban residents, and others have voiced their claims through collective petitioning, demonstrations, and other activities, in what should be viewed as the exercise of the citizenry’s natural right to interest articulation. Instead, these events are regarded as destabilizing ‘mass incidents’ and governments – particularly at the lowest tiers – are then forced to take action to preserve stability, as one party in a conflict. As a direct result of this ‘deliberate action’ on the part of local governments, the ‘natural’ interest articulation of groups becomes an ‘illegal incident’. At the same time, governments must confront these ‘illegal incidents’ without any room to maneuver and without the advantages which social intermediaries can bring to conflict resolution.


A second policy flaw arises from local Party-state officials’ adoption of illegal measures for stability preservation. This ‘stability at all costs’ mindset leads to the violation of the legal rights of the public and to the undermining of basic social rules – all in the name of ‘stability.’[5]


Measures such as the deletion of petitioners’ case files, the interception and detention of petitioners and re-education through labor do not work to resolve the problems experienced by petitioners; on the contrary, these methods press petitioners to take their claims one step further and adopt extremist tactics. Furthermore, government misconduct and the indiscriminate use of force when handling mass contention can lead to the intensification of contradictions, the escalation of conflicts and enormous material losses.


A final policy flaw involves the fears of some leading cadres that destabilizing incidents will occur during their tenure, with the result that these cadres are constantly occupied with matters of stability preservation. This is especially true during the so-called ‘sensitive periods’ – national holidays, sensitive anniversaries, and other important domestic and international events – which weigh heavily on the already frayed nerves of local officials. Stability preservation becomes a matter of prime importance during these periods and the masses are mobilized on a large scale. For many years, the problem of stability has been growing in importance, undergirded by a single, firmly entrenched mindset – ‘always tighten, never loosen’. At the same time, the attitude of many leading cadres has been one of ‘kick the can down the road – or cover it up’; in other words, as long as problems do not deteriorate and tarnish one’s professional reputation, they can be neglected. Along these lines, some cadres have bought off so-called unstable elements; this phenomenon of ‘buying stability’ has reached worrying proportions in some locales.


Third, in the wake of advances in information technology, truth and rumors are both undermining governmental authority. In recent years, the web and smart phones – emblematic of the fast-paced development of information technology – have played an increasingly crucial role in everyday life. Furthermore, information technology has become an important restructuring force in the course of China’s political development. This is reflected not only in the popular use of the Internet to set agendas, but also in its role as a facilitator for various planned actions. Accordingly, the Internet has become a new avenue for the mobilization of society. Modern information technology has given the public the ability to make active use of the media, a development which will serve to strengthen its capacity to resist various social contexts and ideologies.


In many ‘incidents of social venting’, for example, wrong or inaccurate information can easily arouse public anger and lead to impromptu gatherings, where the situation can quickly deteriorate. This information is spread primarily through text messages and the Internet; however, Party-state officials have yet to recognize the changes brought by the development of information technology. Instead, they still prefer the time-honored tactics of information blackouts and belated statements, as a result of which rumors fly rampant and the truth is rendered moot. In this atmosphere of rumors and half-truths, the public does not know whom to trust. Consequently, truthful yet belated statements not only fail to dispel the rumors, but, on the contrary, serve to undermine governmental authority. This authority is the fundamental force which maintains social order and preserves the smooth operation of society; once the public begins to lose trust in the government and ceases to identify with it, panic sets in and complete social chaos is unleashed.


In such situations, the only choice is to mobilize the People’s Armed Police, who take forceful measures to ensure that order is restored. Not only is this costly in terms of both public resources and social costs, but, more importantly, it weakens the public’s feelings of identity with the government. In other words, the widespread use of information technology in today’s Internet age presents a stark challenge to the stability preservation model reliant upon state violence, organizational control, information monopoly and restrictions on speech. The Chinese security organs (the police) and public opinion control (the propaganda department) are on constant high alert, investing even greater resources in the face of the rising costs for social governance. If this trend continues, these enormous costs will force the government to hog public resources in competition with the public, thus intensifying and complicating social conflicts in a vicious and never-ending cycle.[6]


Fourth, as citizens’ rights consciousness grows, so does the probability that this awareness will translate into concrete acts of rights protection. Harvard University professor Elizabeth Perry asserts that: ‘in a country where rights are seen more as state-authorized channels to enhance national unity and prosperity than as naturally endowed protections against state intrusion, popular demands for the exercise of political rights are perhaps better seen as an affirmation of – rather than an affront to – state power’.[7] However, following the shift of Chinese rights-based resistance from individual cases to a shared agenda, the deepening and strengthening of citizens’ rights consciousness is undeniable. The Chinese people have now realized that they should have certain rights, so that when a particular right is violated, many will stand up to protect it; in this context, there is an increased probability that rights consciousness will bring about action. Some of these advocates, brimming with righteous indignation, will assume that they ‘keep the violators by the tail’ and declare: ‘I’m not afraid of anyone’. This is benefited by market-oriented economic reforms, the implementation of the rule of law, and the establishment and development of a modern rights regime.


Indeed, scholars have pointed out that ‘on the surface, the people’s possession and exercise of rights only clarifies the antagonism and divisions between individuals, between the public and the government, and between the state and society. Yet, the modern rights regime does not intensify the antagonism between social groups; in fact, it serves to absorb these divisions and keep them at an appropriately low level, so that they may be resolved through the redefinition of rights and obligations. This amounts to an institutionalized method for the resolution of social conflicts’.[8] In other words, the changing structure, relations, and values of society, alongside the establishment of a sound legal framework, have promoted the continuous expansion of rights consciousness among citizens and a concurrent increase in the likelihood of rights protection activism. Although initially this could lead to an increased rights-based conflict between members of society – whether individuals or organizations – these conflicts remain a natural expression of [individual or group] interests. Regulated – as far as possible – by the relevant institutions, these conflicts will not significantly affect social order.


How to Bring ‘Resilient Stability’ to Chinese Society


In an increasingly open and democratic nation, true stability is unattainable through reliance upon the coercive and heavy-handed measures of the Mao era. Stability preservation during sensitive times of social conflict demands more than wise governance; it also requires that stability be rethought to fit the present stage of social development.


First, rights protection should be the precursor and foundation of stability preservation. The key to stability preservation lies in resolving the standoff between government attempts at stability preservation and popular efforts at rights protection. Essentially, rights protection is not in conflict with stability preservation. Quite the contrary, rights protection is the basis of stability preservation, as the process of rights protection is also one of stability preservation. The recognition and protection of people’s basic rights form the sole foundation upon which sound and lasting stability preservation can be achieved. Indiscriminate violation of these rights in the name of stability preservation will yield a stability that is fragile and ephemeral. The construction of a fair and just system for social distribution is the crux of stability preservation in contemporary China, but this requires first addressing the issues of interest imbalance and interest articulation. The frequent instances of rights protection and emerging rights discourse in today’s China have generated a gradual awakening of a rights consciousness among the Chinese public. This presents a golden opportunity to institutionalise a mechanism for rights protection, to open channels for the articulation of citizens’ interests, and to level the playing field for laborers and disadvantaged groups in the areas of interest aggregation and policy-making. If seized, this opportunity would enable the rapid realisation of true harmony and stability. The rationale is simple; effective stability preservation is dependent upon rights protection, which in turn requires a mature and institutionalised claims-making mechanism.[9]


Second, ‘rigid stability’ should be replaced by ‘resilient stability’. In contemporary China, the problem lies not in the laws already on the books, but in their implementation. Rules, regulations, methods, and ‘red header documents’ issued at every level of government serve to water down the strength of China’s laws and create serious problems with enforcement. Taking on the mechanism of ‘stability preservation through pressure’ requires a timely push for institutional transformation and institution building. This author believes that a series of social reforms are needed in order for ‘rigid stability’ to become ‘resilient stability’, prime among these being the establishment of a fair and just system for social distribution; this will permit the fruits of reform to be enjoyed by all social strata. Other necessary changes include reform of the present ‘pressurized system’, devolution of powers to the county level and – via judicial reform – the establishment of the state’s legal authority, which would make the Constitution the cornerstone of social stability. The goal of these reforms is for county governments to institute democratic self-governance on the basis of administrative and political devolution, thereby correcting the defects of authoritarian politics and increasing the resiliency of the political system. At the same time, the state should fully accommodate the wishes of the citizens for orderly political participation and work to protect this basic political right. A mature and improved political system, civil rights under a truly functional constitutional system, and the institutionalization of interest articulation on the part of the citizenry – these are reliable safeguards for China’s long-term political stability.


Third, ‘static stability’ should give way to ‘dynamic stability’. Political scientist Yu Keping explains the difference between ‘dynamic stability’ and ‘static stability’ as one of prohibitions. If the common people are for some reasons dissatisfied, under ‘static stability’ they are prohibited from articulating their grievances. Under ‘dynamic stability’, however, not only is grievance articulation permitted, but reasonable demands are approved and institutions are adjusted. Yu has summed up these differing approaches as ‘channeling everything into its proper place’ versus ‘holding everything in place’.[10]


The present state of China’s social stability is a classic case of ‘static stability’ predicated on ‘holding and pressing everything in place’. This sort of ‘stability preservation through pressure’ is temporary, as it does not possess long-term sustainability. Authorities cannot ensure lasting political stability amidst so many conflicts long hidden and neglected, whose sheer accumulated volume could lead to profound and lingering social problems. Although a rights consciousness is gradually taking shape, the public currently lacks a truly representative system for interest articulation. Occupying a weak bargaining position, the public often plays the victim to those groups with power and money. Under these conditions, a sense of injustice and relative deprivation could cause social instability, and in the face of such a possibility, the present system of ‘stability preservation through pressure’ must be addressed. This requires a sound mechanism for citizens to voice their own claims and a social safety valve to vent public frustrations, because the alternative will be a ‘butterfly effect’.



Fourth, ‘stability creation’ should replace ‘stability preservation’. Social contradictions have increased significantly and reforms have emerged mainly as the result of this social pressure. A better way forward would be to work actively to resolve these contradictions, to eliminate them as a source of social pressure, and – by establishing political legitimacy – to build a truly stable social order. To that end, the government and actors at various levels must adopt a scientific way of thinking about stability preservation, trading passive ‘stability preservation’ for a more active ‘stability creation’. The first step is to break through the ideological stranglehold of the simplistic ‘stability trumps all’ mindset and abandon those methods which ignore costs and side effects. Breaking this mindset, however, requires a new way of thinking. Facing today’s issues of social stability requires rationality on the part of society, wisdom on the part of authorities and character on the part of the researchers. Of particular importance is the need for government officials, when handling matters which affect the interests of the masses, to act fairly and justly, swiftly and reasonably to put a stop to half-hearted work styles, abuse of power, and other improper administrative behaviors. This would work to reduce conflicts, disputes, and elements of instability at their very source, thereby achieving active ‘stability creation’.

Source: 于建嵘:当前压力维稳的困境与出路——再论中国社会的刚性稳定, Exploration and Free Views, 9 (2012): 3-6. Published online on 21 October 2012:

Translator’s Note: The Chinese original contained in-text endnote numbers, yet references were omitted. I have done my best to piece together these sources, but any misattributions are my own rather than the author’s. Suggestions regarding a more accurate attribution of sources are welcome at:



[1]    于建嵘:《从刚性稳定到韧性稳定——关于中国社会秩序的一个分析框架》,载《学习与探索》2009年第5期,第113-118页。

[2]   荣敬本,高新军,杨雪冬,赖海榕,王安岭:《再论从压力型体制向民主合作体制的转变——县乡两级政治体制改革的比较研究》,中央编译出版社,2001年版。

[3]   于建嵘:《从刚性到韧性,变’维稳’为’创稳’》,《南方都市报》2010年4月4日。

[4]   孙立平:《建立市场经济条件下的利益均衡机制》,《人民网》2004年11月29日。

[5]   于建嵘:《社会冲突与刚性稳定——对近期中国社会稳定形势的分析》,载《战略与管理》2009年第2期,第38-53页。

[6]   于建嵘:《当前中国能避免社会大动荡吗?——2009年2月9日在日本早稻田大学的演讲》,载《经济管理文摘》2009年第11期,第38-44页。

[7]   于建嵘,裴宜理 [美] ,阎小骏(译):《中国的政治传统与发展》,载《南风窗》2008年第20期,第32-34页。

[8]   夏勇:《走向权利的时代》,中国政法大学出版社,1995年版,序言。

[9]   于建嵘:《维权就是维稳》,载《人民论坛》2012年第1期, 第23页。

[10] 俞可平,阎健(编):《民主是个好东西》,社会科学文献出版社,2006年版。


[1] Yu Jianrong, ‘From Rigid Stability to Resilient Stability: An Analytical Framework for China’s Social Order’, Study and Exploration, no.5 (2009): 113-118.

[2] Rong Jingben, Gao Xinjun, Yang Xuedong, Lai Hairong, and Wang Anling, Reassessing the Transformation from a Pressurized System to a Democratic System of Cooperation: Comparative Studies of Political Reform at the County and Township Levels, Beijing: Central Compilation and Translation Press, 2001.

[3] Yu Jianrong, ‘From Rigid to Resilient, “Stability Preservation” to “Stability Creation” ’, Southern Metropolis Daily, 4 April 2010.

[4] Sun Liping, ‘Build a Market Economy Mechanism for Balancing Interests,’ People’s Daily Online, 29 November 2004.

[5] Yu Jianrong, ‘Social Conflicts and Rigid Stability: An Analysis of the Recent State of Social Stability in China,’ Strategy and Management, no.2 (2009): 38-53.

[6] Yu Jianrong, ‘Can Contemporary China Avoid a Great Social Upheaval? 9 February 2009 Speech at Waseda University, Japan’, Economy and Management Digest, no.11 (2009): 38-44.

[7] Yu Jianrong, Pei Yili (Elizabeth J. Perry), Yang Xiaojun (translator), ‘Chinese Political Tradition and Development’, South Wind, no.20 (2008): 32-34.

[8] Xia Yong, Towards the Era of Rights, Beijing: China University of Political Science and Law Press, 1995, Foreword.

[9] Yu Jianrong, ‘Rights Protection is Stability Preservation’, People’s Forum, no.1 (2012): 23.

[10] Yu Keping and Yan Jian (ed.), Democracy Is a Good Thing, Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press of China, 2006.