Bringing the State Back in: Changing social policy paradigm and governance in China during the Hu-Wen era

Professor Ka Ho Mok, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, The Hong Kong Institute of Education and Changjiang Chair Professor, Zhejiang University, China

A China Studies Centre Distinguished Speaker lecture

[b||3 October]

Among the social and political consequences of the marketisation and commodification of social services in the post-Mao era is a society that has become increasingly unequal while regional disparity has intensified. Chinese citizens now openly criticize the government for denying its social welfare provision and social protection responsibilities.

Under the Hu-Wen leadership in the last decade, the central government has tried to re-focus its attention on social welfare provision by placing more emphasis on the quality and accessibility of health, education and other social protection measures, in order to address the tensions that are a product of the growing inequality. Pronouncements by the Chinese leadership on the need for building a harmonious society have been linked with improved services such as health and education for the poor. The state’s commitments to regulating and assuring the conditions for collective welfare such as work safety, minimum wage for peasant workers, environmental regulation, the provision of affordable health care and unemployment relief, have all risen to new prominence on the policy agenda.

Professor Mok critically reviews the major policies and reform measures that the Chinese government under the Hu-Wen leadership has adopted in transforming the provision of social policy and delivery of social welfare services, with particular reference to examining whether there is any major shift in policy paradigm in social policy governance. More specifically, he will also assess how far the shift has really transformed social policy governance in mainland China.

Professor Ka Ho Mok

Professor Ka Ho Mok is Chair Professor of Comparative Policy and concurrently, Associate Vice President (External Relations), Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Co-Director, Centre of Governance and Citizenship of the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd). Before joining the HKIEd, he was Associate Dean and Professor of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong (HKU). Being appointed as founding Chair Professor in East Asian Studies, Professor Mok developed the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Bristol, UK before taking the position at HKU. He also served as Associate Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at City University of Hong Kong before going to Bristol University. He is a founding editor of Journal of Asian Public Policy and Comparative Development and Policy in Asia Book Series.