Tightening Civil Society in China: On-the-Ground Facts and What It Means for How We Understand the Regime

12:00 to 14:00
(GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris
Lunch Seminar

As the largest organizer of PUBLIC lectures in Shanghai for a decade, I have witnessed a drastic tightening on what can be organized and said in public since 2022.  I will (1) share my insights from on-the-ground in China, starting from 2010 up through the pandemic and the 2022 lockdown and protests. I will in particular share details of my interactions with the Shanghai security apparatus, actually QUOTING them, as a way of better understanding the concerns of the state. I will then (2) turn to a more theoretical discussion, placing my eyewitness empirical insights in the context of what this regime is trying to accomplish and has been trying to accomplish since 1949. Very briefly, I will say that we never should have thought that China was turning away from its roots as a one-party Leninist state, and that these four words are the best way to describe the regime. I will also say that we should NOT think that the regime cares more about freedom of expression than freedom of association. Ensuring that the party monopolizes all sources of organizational capacity is its raison d’etre, and restrictions on expression can be seen as being in SERVICE of restrictions on the capacity of civil society to threaten the party, which itself started as a tiny group and thus knows the power of association.

Short bio of Frank Tsai:

Frank Tsai is an American with a decade of experience at consultancies helping multinational corporations understand China and the world, at both Control Risks (the top global political risk consultancy) and The Economist Intelligence Unit. He is currently Lecturer at both Emlyon Business School, where he teaches on geopolitical risk, and at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, where he teaches on international media. He has also taught geopolitical risk at the ESSCA School of Management and was many years ago Lecturer in American Politics at Renmin University. Frank is Founder and CEO of China Crossroads, Shanghai’s largest and only platform of public lectures on “China and the world,” where he hosts senior figures in international politics and business. His recent interviews on global media have included CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, DW, and Channel News Asia, among others.

Frank Tsai’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/frank-tsai-71397222/

China Crossroads: http://www.shanghai-review.org/china-crossroads/

Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Copenhagen University
Room 10.3.28 (lunch room), Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Karen Blixens Plads 8, building 10, 2300 København S

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