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Suzanne E. Scoggins

Apr 25, 2022

Policing China

Street-Level Cops in the Shadow of Protest

Cornell University Press 2021

China has the reputation for being a strong security state. After the pro-democracy Tiananmen protests, the Chinese government moved to increase stability maintenance – and that approach is reflected in today’s suppression of social unrest in Xinjiang where somewhere between 800,000-2 million members of the Uighur minority have been interned in camps. Throughout the country, the government has maintained stability by installing millions of cameras. The Chinese and International press emphasize these actions – projecting a view of China as a strong security state. 

But Suzanne E. Scoggins argues that the decision to prioritize stability maintenance comes at the expense of everyday policing. In remarkable interviews with police officers and analysis of policing journal articles she assesses resource allocation, police reforms, and structural patterns of control – to find a weak police force unable to protect citizens against violent crime. Policing China: Street-Level Cops in the Shadow of Protest (Cornell UP, 2021) provides a surprising – and more accurate – understanding of how the police function in China – how they can be so ineffective at everyday crime management while still being very good at stability maintenance. The podcast includes a remarkable conversation about how research access in China is changing – as well as the role of the National Committee on US-China Relations.

Dr. Suzanne E. Scoggins is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of Asian Studies at Clark University. She is also a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow at The National Committee on United States-China Relations.

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Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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