Technologies of authoritarian statecraft in welfare provision: contracting services to NGOs in China

Stream: Chinese social policy: states and markets
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.10 pm


In 2013 the Chinese government rolled out a nationwide programme of procurement of welfare services to NGOs. This required modifying the constrictive regulatory framework governing civil society organisations to make it easier for NGOs to register and so expand the provider base of social welfare provision. We argue that in encouraging NGOs to apply for procurement contracts for the provision of particular services, the government sought to pursue an agenda of enhanced welfare provision and social stability to shape the direction of civil society. Using technologies of state-craft it seeks to manage the dilemma of how to foster a service-oriented civil society whilst keeping rights-based and politically sensitive groups at bay.

The paper focuses on key technologies of power, namely: first, changes in the regulatory environment to encourage and simultaneously discourage certain types of social organisations; second, political policies to strengthen Party control over social organisations; and third, lists of services that government stipulates for contracting to NGOs that then shape and order the construction of needs.

The paper draws upon ongoing qualitative research funded by the ESRC on contracting welfare services provision to NGOs in three sectors, namely, migrants, people living with HIV/AIDs and people living with disabilities. The paper draws on preliminary empirical findings, secondary literature and relevant laws and policies.


Jude Howell (Presenter), London School of Economics
Jude Howell is Professor of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE). She was Director of the ESRC Research Programme on Non-Governmental Public Action and former Director of the Centre for Civil Society at the LSE (2003-2010). She has written extensively on issues relating to civil society, development, security, gender and governance, and on China in particular. Her latest book on China is “NGOs and Accountability in China: child welfare organisations”. She has been awarded an ESRC research grant for research into the Politics of Sub-contracting Welfare Services to NGOs in China”.

Yuanyuan Qu (Presenter), London School of Economics and Political Science
Yuanyuan Qu is a research officer in the ESRC project “Services subcontracting to NGOs in China". Her research interests lie in the areas of social inclusion, digitalisation and vulnerable people (disabled people, people living with HIV/AIDS), with a particular focus on China. Her PhD examines the internet use of Chinese disabled people and the impact of that on their empowerment and citizenship. Prior to her PhD in sociology at the University of Glasgow (2017), Yuanyuan obtained a Masters from the Central China Normal University (2014) and two BAs (in sociology and in English literature) from the same university (2011).

Regina Enjuto Martinez, London School of Economics and Political Science
Dr Regina Enjuto Martinez is a Research Officer at the Department of International Development at LSE.Her research interests are in civil society in authoritarian contexts, labour relations, welfare and social policy, and legal development. Currently she is researching the politics of social service contracting to NGOs in China, under an ESRC project. Regina holds a PhD in Development Studies from LSE and an MSc in Sociology from National Chengchi University (Taiwan). She also obtained a Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain).