Squeezing the Same Old Stone: Suing the Rural Chinese State and the Shift from Tax Reform to Land Seizures
American Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting Paper
47 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2011 Last revised: 10 Jan 2015
Date Written: February 26, 2013
This paper seeks to add to the debate about tactics and grievances in contentious politics by showing that administrative lawsuits are an important venue for redressing and signalling grievances. We show that administrative lawsuits related to land increased while those related to tax decreased in the mid-2000s. These lawsuits reflect underlying changes in extraction behaviour by local officials, as the central government began to limit the power of local governments to collect arbitrary taxes and fees. Local officials, strapped for cash after these reforms, resorted to another form of extraction: the expropriation and sale of land used by peasants. We demonstrate that this shift is evident in the statistical data on administrative litigation and conclude by discussing the importance and value of paying more attention to formal channels of contention in China.
Keywords: state, state-society relations, taxes, protest, land, authoritarian, comparative politics, China, tax-for-fee reform, land seizures, unrest, administrative litigation
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