Yu Jianrong: Reassessing China’s ‘Rigid Stability’

In an essay translated by Jason Todd, professor Yu Jianrong argues that China’s fixation on “stability at all costs” is misguided and unsustainable. He advocates the cultivation of a resilient and dynamic “true” stability, in place of the rigid and static form imposed by existing policies. From The China Story:
Abstract: China’s particular form of social stability is one of ‘rigid stability’ that is intimately connected with its authoritarian regime. This form of ‘rigid stability’ is maintained via a mechanism of ‘stability preservation through pressure’. In practice, ‘stability preservation through pressure’ is confronted by many challenges, including intensified conflicts of interest, various policy flaws related stability preservation, the development of information technology and increasing rights consciousness among citizens. A new line of thinking is currently needed in regard to stability preservation, with rights protection as its precursor and foundation. ‘Rigid stability’ must give way to ‘resilient stability’, ‘static stability’ must yield to ‘dynamic stability’, and ‘stability preservation’ must become ‘stability creation’.
In an increasingly open and democratic nation, true stability is unattainable through reliance upon the coercive and heavy-handed measures of the Mao era. Stability preservation during sensitive times of social conflict demands more than wise governance; it also requires that stability be rethought to fit the present stage of social development.
Yu’s vision for reform earned him a place on Foreign Policy magazine’s 2012 list of “Great Global Thinkers”, behind Chen Guangcheng and Ai Weiwei. At the South China Morning Post, The University of Nottingham’s Andreas Fulda described the marked contrast between Yu and Ai, concluding that “establishment intellectuals like Yu are the people the West must learn to work with if it wishes to encourage political reform in China.”

Yu, an establishment intellectual, is an unlikely poster boy for the Chinese democracy movement. He is a patriot first,

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