State Legitimacy, State Behaviors, and Movement Development

Dingxin Zhao

in The Power of Tiananmen

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780226982601
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226982625 | DOI:
State Legitimacy, State Behaviors, and Movement Development

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During the 1989 Beijing Student Movement, the Chinese government went back and forth several times between policies of concession and repression, neither of which was successful. Eventually, the government suppressed the movement with military force, ending it tragically. Both the frequent changes in state policy and the eventual repression have been commonly explained as the outcome of power struggles between reform and conservative factions within the government. This chapter argues that the key factor underlying these policy changes and the consequent development of the movement was the ineffectiveness of previous state control measures, an ineffectiveness which in turn had resulted from the presence of conflicting views of state legitimacy in the minds of top state elites, the movement activists, and the rest of Beijing's population. After providing a critical review of theories of factionalism in Chinese politics, the chapter presents a model that reveals the Chinese state's fundamental social control problems by bringing into focus the nature of the regime and its sources of legitimation. Finally, it offers an empirical account of government behavior during the 1989 Movement.

Keywords: 1989 Beijing Student Movement; state legitimacy; government behavior; concession; repression; state control; factionalism; politics; social control

Chapter.  13408 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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