Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

The framework of crisis-induced agenda setting in China

By Yihong Liu and Rami Hin-yeung Chan

The extent by which public agenda influences policy agenda indicates the degree of democracy in a regime. However, few researchers have drawn their attention on authoritarian regimes like China. This article investigates how the government addresses the demands of the public during a crisis at the policy agenda level. This paper dissects five patterns of agenda setting, namely, agenda-as-usual, symbolic agenda, conflicting agenda, mass campaign (or competing agenda) and authority domination (or hidden agenda) with real case examples in contemporary China. Ultimately, the evolution of various types of agenda setting provides us with a horizon to understand subtly yet significantly changes in the Chinese policymaking and political system with special focus on competing agenda and hidden agenda because such level of political sensitivity can rarely be found in democratic systems. Meanwhile, the comparison among these agendas would inspire authoritative governments such as China to exploit a crisis.

Image: globovision on flickr

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