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Politics at the Boundary: Mixed Signals and the Chinese State

LSE ARC and Department of International Development seminar

Monday 18th October 2010, 12.15pm to 1.45pm, Room H705, Connaught House, LSE

Speaker: Kevin O'Brien
Chair: Mayling Birney

How are political boundaries patrolled, negotiated and transformed? A close-to-the-ground examination of three types of politically-active professionals (public interest lawyers, advocacy journalists and NGO leaders) shows that mixed signals about the limits of the permissible are common.

Drawing on interviews, policy statements and communications within the bureaucracy, this paper explores how information passes between signal senders (different parts of the state) and signal receivers (individuals in society). Although there are clear "forbidden zones" in contemporary China (for example, Taiwanese or Tibetan independence) mixed signals about what is acceptable and what is not are an important feature of the Chinese state.



Professor Kevin O'Brien is the Alann P. Bedford Professor of Asian Studies & Professor of Political Science at the University of California - Berkeley.

Mayling Birney

Dr Mayling Birney is a lecturer in the Political Economy of Development at LSE.