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SAINTS AND THE STATE: RELIGIOUS EVOLUTION AND PROBLEMS OF GOVERNANCE IN CHINA

Richard Madsen
Asian Perspective
Vol. 25, No. 4, Special Issue on Economic Reforms and Social change in Contemporary China (2001), pp. 187-211
Published by: Lynne Rienner Publishers
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42704341
Page Count: 25
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
SAINTS AND THE STATE: RELIGIOUS EVOLUTION AND PROBLEMS OF GOVERNANCE IN CHINA
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Abstract

The Vatican's canonization of 120 Chinese martyrs on October 1, 2000 provoked a bitter denunciation from the Chinese government. Analyzing the context of this event, this article argues that the official Chinese reaction is a sign of government weakness and insecurity in the face of growing and evolving forms of unofficial religious life in particular and social life in general. The weakness is both structural and symbolic. Structurally, the state lacks sufficient resources to coerce most religious communities into compliance and it is unable to provide incentives that could coopt such communities. Symbolically, the state lacks the capacity to represent the richness of national identities in a changing, pluralist society. The government is failing to develop forms of soft power sufficient to bring order and stability to a rapidly evolving realm of unofficial social relations.

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