Working Paper

Austerity, Polarity and the Prospect of Regime Change: China

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Since the dawn of this millennium, and long before the current financial turmoil and the subsequent bitter pill of austerity therapy hit the Untied States and the European Union, the Chinese Communist Government has publicly recognized the monumental challenge of polarity.

Against the background of a persistent rise in the Gini co-efficent for China as a whole, already reaching .53 in 2004 according to Chinese government surveys, the Hu-Wen leadership announced the urgent need to construct a “harmonious society” as a response to instability, triggered by rapidly widening income gaps. There is now a large and sophisticated scholarly literature on the measurements, trends, dimensions, politics and attitudinal surveys of social inequality in China (e.g. Davis and Wang 2009; Whyte 2010; Khan and Riskin 2001; Lee and Selden 2007).