Political and Social Reforms

Migrant workers returning to Beijing after Chinese New Year. Photo: Kimiko Suda


China is passing through a broad process of economic, political and social transition. The reforms are expected to increase the level of the rule of law, good governance and participation of civil society. The Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) accompanies this process and supports the exchange of Chinese and German stakeholders from academia, NGOs and governmental institutions involved in debates and decision making on different levels.

Chinese civil society is currently still at an initial stage of development. The HBS supports China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs in a research and consultation process to develop by-laws for the internal regulation and registration of social organizations. For more than a decade China’s NGOs have been growing fast in number and working capacity and are making significant contributions in many important fields, such as environmental sustainability, public health, poverty alleviation and gender equality. The HBS especially supports environmental NGOs in their capacity building and networking within China and on an international level.

Among the most influential groups in China’s growing civil society are journalists and lawyers. HBS creates opportunities for exchange and capacity building. Under the umbrella of the German Chinese Rule of Law Dialogue, HBS supports lawyers and researchers who contribute to the debates about law within the overall reforms in China. In this context we also work with both the Chinese and the German government and party organisations to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of political and social reforms in China and Germany.

Gender democracy is an important part of HBS’s work in China as it is worldwide. Working towards gender democracy means that patriarchal structures and power relations in private and public spheres have to be challenged. Social positions (work, income, power etc.) should be achieved by ability, not by virtue of gender; and a variety of gender identities, orientations and life styles must be legally and socially recognised.

Examples of our project work include:

Local Governance and Public Participation
In cooperation with the  China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO), HBS supports a number of activities to strengthen local governance and public participation.  Especially in China’s developing western regions there is still a need to better understand Good Governance practices and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  A pilot project involving business managers, and employees, government officials and local communities was started in the province of Ningxia and has meanwhile been expanded to Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai.

Sino-German Dialogue on Political and Social Transformation
Ethnicity and Integration - Perceptions of current policies in China and Germany

Questions about ethnic diversity in all areas of society e.g. education and labor market, representation in politics, media and culture in China and Germany were lively discussed by members of the Chinese Communist Party, the German Green Party and academics from both respective countries from 18. – 20. March in Changsha, Hunan. The responsibility of governmental and civil society institutions to ensure the same chances for all members of society was the main issue in the discussions about the challenges to achieve social justice and build up social stability.
Since 2005, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, first in cooperation with the China Center for Comparative Politics & Economics (CCCPE) and since 2010 with the China Center for Overseas Social and Philosophical Theories (CCOSPT) (both under the Central Compilation & Translation Bureau) has annually held a Sino-German Dialogue to discuss new developments in the party systems of both Germany and China. For the 5th dialogue the focus was shifted from »party transformation« towards current social policies. The next dialogue will be held in April 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Fore more information download conference report here

Informalisation, Unpaid Care and Social Security through a gendered perspective
A networking and research project  has brought together female economists and gender experts to study the influence of economic reforms on employment and social security through a gendered perspective. The employment situation of women has been changed by the dissolution of state-owned companies and women have been confronted with the double pressure of wage work and unpaid care of children and the elderly. A field trip to India, presentations at international conferences and case studies have been supported. Seven short studies based on the analysis of gender segregated statistics conducted by young female economists were coordinated by the China Center for Economic Research (CCER) at Peking University in cooperation with the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. The study was published under the title "Gender Equality and China's Economic Transformation: Informal Employment and Care Provision" by Economic Science Press (Beijing) in June 2010 (in Chinese). The English version is available as PDF, please send your request to: info@boell-china.org