China’s Disaffected Insiders

Issue Date July 2017
Volume 28
Issue 3
Page Numbers 5-13
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To understand authoritarian vulnerabilities, it pays to examine tensions within the state, not only challenges from above and below. This essay considers three groups of resentful and disillusioned insiders in China: frustrated police, neglected ex-military officers, and bullied protest demobilizers. That some people who should be committed to state goals now believe they are victims rather than beneficiaries of Party rule raises questions about the system’s cohesiveness and the morale of the rank and file. Does a lack of full-throated support mean that the regime is alienating its natural constituency? What happens when some of the Party’s most reliable cheerleaders stop cheering?

About the Author

Kevin J. O’Brien is professor of political science, Alann P. Bedford Professor of Asian Studies, and director of the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Rightful Resistance in Rural China (with Lianjiang Li, 2006).

View all work by Kevin J. O’Brien