Rationalising Stability Preservation through Mao’s Not So Invisible Hand

Susan Trevaskes


This paper considers the process of constructing the official discourse of weiwen (维稳, stability preservation) in the policing arena in the first decade of the 21st century. It focuses on the pivotal period after 2003 when policing priorities were shifted from “striking hard” at serious crime to pursuing weiwen to contain burgeoning protests and civil dissent, as a move to maintain stability in the early to mid years of the Hu Jintao–Wen Jiabao harmonious society era. We observe how Mao has been central in this process. Stability preservation operations have been rationalised through Maoist ideology using some staples of Maoist discourse, particularly “social contradictions”, and policing authorities have adopted key methodological aspects of Maoist campaign-style policing to embed this new weiwen focus in the everyday agendas of policing, while ever more “mass incidents” disrupt the maintenance of stability in China.

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