By Shaun Gerard Breslin (auth.)
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Additional resources for China in the 1980s: Centre-Province Relations in a Reforming Socialist State
Intra-elite conflict had a profound impact on the trajectory of centre-province relations in China in the 1980s. Not only did it create many of the conditions mentioned above for enhancing provincial leaders' power, but it also affected the way in which reform policies were initiated. These considerations are so important for this study that they will be considered in detail in Chapter 3. VARIATIONS IN PROVINCIAL LEADERS' RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CENTRE When analysing centre-province relations in China, it is important to avoid the trap of assuming that there is a coherent and unified group called 'province'.
By the end of the 1980s the centre still retained significant forces of control, integration and national cohesion, but at the same time its position had been greatly weakened vis-a-vis the strength of some provinces. Notwithstanding the weakening of some of the instrumentalities of central control, communist party rule continues to act as an agent of cohesion and integration in contemporary China. The strength of central control may have been weakened, but ultimately the forces and control mechanisms identified in this chapter are all elements that help keep China together.
Second, rather than making overt statements, the provincial media can reinforce opinions by bombarding the population with stories of local successes (but only if they can see some tangible evidence of this with their own eyes). Provincial media sources can also provide support for supportive central clients during periods of intra-elite conflict at the centre. For example, just as the Shanghai media apparatus helped the Gang of Four to attack Wu Han at the onset of the Cultural Revolution, it also became an alternative to the central media establishment in Beijing for leaders who wanted to initiate a faster pace of reform during 1991-2.
China in the 1980s: Centre-Province Relations in a Reforming Socialist State by Shaun Gerard Breslin (auth.)