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Welfare development in China under president Xi: beyond the informal security regime?

Zheng, Binrui (2018) Welfare development in China under president Xi: beyond the informal security regime? PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis examines the dynamics of welfare state change in China since 2012. The following questions are addressed: what is the nature of China’s welfare regime? Where is China now in relation to welfare state development? In order to answer these questions, the notion of an informal security regime (ISR) proposed by Gough et al. (2004) is used as an ideal typical model against which to understand changes in China’s welfare system. Going further, the respective concepts of path dependency and political legitimacy are deployed to develop an in-depth understanding of the ‘welfare challenges’ that confront contemporary China. Drawing on qualitative elite interviews with a wide range of social policy actors and leading academics, this thesis provides answers to these questions using a combination of secondary literature analysis, documentary analysis, and the analysis of interviewees’ understandings and interpretations of the major reforms in the core areas of health-care, pension provision and social assistance. The findings show that, after decades of consistent efforts of improving welfare arrangements in key areas of social policy, there are signs that China is beginning to move beyond the ISR – though incrementally and inconsistently – towards a welfare system more in keeping with Gough’s understanding of a ‘security regime’. For the purpose of serving the CCP’s legitimacy, social policy has been identified as a new economic growth point and consequently not subordinate to economic policy so much as the ‘other side of that coin’. There are nevertheless some significant additional challenges such as China’s demographic problem, especially aging issues, that pose unique difficulties for policy makers. Above all, however, the fragmented nature of Chinese governance institutions and the country’s regulatory framework makes finding solutions to fragmentation the major governmental objective. Therefore, the direction of China’s welfare development depends on President Xi’s ability successfully to reform the welfare system, although success is not assured because of the inevitable complexity of domestic and international challenges.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: China welfare development, Informal Security regime, Xi Jinping's welfare reform
Academic Units: The University of York > Social Policy and Social Work (York)
Depositing User: Mr Binrui Zheng
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2019 12:23
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2019 12:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23204

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