The EU’s relationship with China is critical for the EU and for the future of the world. Our two economies are intertwined. Yet China is a one-party state, with a different view of democracy from that of the West. How long can China’s political system be sustained? How should the EU promote democracy, human rights, and citizens’ empowerment in China? The EU scholarly and policy communities have little capacity to answer these urgent questions. One failure of the EU’s research on China’s political change is the neglect of political developments at levels of government below the central state. This project will support Nottingham in its mission to become the leading centre for contemporary China Studies in Europe, by building a partnership between Nottingham and one of China’s top political research centres, to launch a study of democratization at the local level in China. The project will assess the democratization that is taking place in thousands of townships across China. It studies the effects of democratic reforms on the quality of local governance, on environmental protection and sustainable development, and on citizens’ participation and empowerment. It will compare the impacts of local democratization in 20 townships, using a mixture of methodologies that include case studies, surveys and interviews. Dr Zhengxu Wang, research coordinator at the China Policy Institute of the University of Nottingham and an expert on democratisation in China, will lead the project within his growing inter-disciplinary team of China analysts. Dr Ma Deyong, one of the most promising young scholars on local governance and democratization in China, will join as a Marie Curie Fellow from a top Chinese university, Nankai University. This project will greatly enhance EU academic community’s capacity in China studies, and help the EU develop better policies to promote democratization, human rights, citizen empowerment, and sustainable development in China.
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