The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has repeatedly surprised observers with its ability to respond to challenges, risks and crises triggered by rapid economic and social change. At the same time, China’s political system has made very little progress in introducing broader political participation, pluralism and competition. Chinese leaders have also resisted implementing any procedures or structures that would provide effective control of political power.
On the one hand, the research program focuses on policy making in China and on changes in the leadership structure over time, including party discipline, economic transformation, economic deregulation, judicial reform, and environmental, technological and social policy.
On the other hand, the program deals with Chinese society, which has become increasingly diverse over the past few decades: People’s incomes, working environments, lifestyles and personal values now differ more than ever. New technologies and social media have opened up new ways of communicating and new ways of developing and sharing opinions. However, the resulting frictions and demands have put growing pressure on the Chinese government. The MERICS Research program Public Policy and Society analyzes the political challenges posed by these social dynamics and focuses on two areas: “Chances and limitations for societal organizations” and “The Chinese leadership’s battle for information control and credibility”.