Xu, Changxin. “Are you informed?”, Boston College, 2018. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108024.
Does the emergence of these newly informatics practices by the Chinese state indicate a future abolishment of the Xinfang mechanism? In order to answer these questions and foster an understanding of today’s state information management in China, this thesis first employs the method of historical analysis. The thesis provides an initial effort in English literature to answer how and why societal petitioning was gradually translated into state-dominated action and whether or not informational engagement impacted state autonomy. The thesis then moves on to field work conducted in S Province since 2014 through 2017 that counted approximately 20 weeks altogether. With such first-hand empirical evidence, the thesis develops three main arguments as below: First and foremost, I find that there exist an increasing number of information seekers among petitioners from the background databases of both Governor’s Mailbox and the Provincial Bureau for Letters and Calls’ online complaint system. Such informational needs of today’s Chinese public may be in need of higher attention from policy makers and scholars. Second, the leadership, whether at central or any local level, have sought to establish various apparatuses, and charged them with building information channels and providing an information stream for policy making. the apparatuses hereby develop two strategies to draw more societal actors to their offices and guarantee their informational supplies to above. Such competition eventually results in a champion among all the informatics offices in the arena. Last but not least, apparatus autonomy cannot be equated with individual official autonomy. While an office is assigned with increased autonomy, the very officials’ individual autonomy may fall down to a lesser degree.