Social cohesion and welfare reforms : the Chinese approach

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Since the introduction of the economic Reform and Open Door policy in 1978, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has experienced significant economic, social, political and cultural transformations. The country’s concerted economic efforts have established China as the second largest economy in the world (Garnaut, Song and Fang 2018). In addition to its economic achievements, the country has experienced positive developments, including an impressive reduction of absolute poverty, improvements in people’s livelihoods, expansion of social welfare provisions, increases in education opportunities and enhancements in housing, medical care and various social services (Sander, Schmitt and Kuhnle 2012; Mok, Kuhner and Huang 2017). However, the same socio-economic transformations in the last few decades have caused various social problems, such as the widening income gap between the rich and the poor, the intensifying regional development disparities and the increasing social and economic inequalities among the citizens. All these unintended social consequences inevitably cause an adverse impact on social harmony and social cohesion of the country (Ngok and Chan 2016; Mok and Lau 2014; Mok and Qian 2018). This chapter examines the Chinese government’s management of the unintended consequences of the rapid economic growth and modernisation in the last four decades through social policy expansion and social service reforms for enhancing social harmony and cohesion. It begins with a discussion on the similarities and differences between Western concepts of social cohesion and the Chinese understanding of social harmony, which reflects the concepts’ effects on the different aspects of the country’s development. The following section critically reviews the insights of the Social Cohesion Radar for Mainland China. Next, we discuss the Chinese government’s social policy strategy reforms by utilising social service delivery and social welfare provisions to promote social cohesion. The last section assesses the role of social policy expansion, social welfare and social service provisions in enhancing the country’s social cohesion. The final section presents some tentative conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Cohesion in Asia : Historical Origins, Contemporary Shapes and Future Dynamics
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780429326332
ISBN (Print)9780367280789
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies on Comparative Asian Politics


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