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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr David Kerr

Kerr, David (2015). 'Civil Society and China's Governance Dilemmas in the Era of National Rejuvenation'. In China's Many Dreams: comparative perspectives on China's search for national rejuvenation. David Kerr (ed.) Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 35-64.

Author(s) from Durham


Chinese society has changed far more radically in the last 30 years than the Chinese system of government. There are many consequences to this lack of correlation between social and political change but one evident outcome is the widening of the governance gap. All political systems must aim to match the capacities and activities of government to the values and expectations of populations, not least because a failure to do so will lead to public alienation and in extreme conditions to public rejection of government. Therefore while all governments may experience a governance gap of some kind one of the main tasks of government is to convince populations that the government is aware of the governance gap, that it is mobilizing to deal with the gap, and that it has a determination not to let the gap widen to the point where it becomes a major issue of competence and legitimacy. Much of the rhetoric and activity of the Hu Jintao—Wen Jiabao administrations in China, 2003–13, showed the Chinese government’s awareness of this politics.1