Engaging Huangniu (brokers): Commodification of State-Society Bargaining in China
A strong authoritarian state such as China has a range of institutions and instruments at its disposal to resolve social conflicts. This study proposes a new mechanism—citizen’s engagement of a profit-seeking broker—that helps to facilitate state-society bargaining, resolve conflicts and thereby absorb social contention. This form of statesociety bargaining is conducted via professional brokers whose objective is to make a profit from the transactions. By establishing trust between the officials and citizen, the broker brings the two parties together, enables and facilitates state-society bargaining that would not have taken place otherwise. In so doing, the broker helps to resolve conflicts or protracted stand-offs that might have spilled into street protest. These profit-seekers represent commodification of state-society bargaining by matching demands from discontented citizens with supplies of special favours by state officials. This study contributes to the growing body of conflict resolution and state repression literature in China.

Lynette Ong is an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto, crossly appointed at Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She teaches authoritarian politics, political economy of development and Chinese politics. She is the author or “Prosper or Perish: Credit and Fiscal Systems in Rural China” (Cornell University Press, 2012). Her publications have appeared in a range of Political Science and Asian Studies journals, including Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Politics, International Political Science Review, China Quarterly, China Journal, and Journal of Contemporary Asia, etc.

Faculty host: Yongshun Cai (  
Speaker(s) Prof. Lynette Ong
University of Toronto
Date 31 May 2019 (Friday)
Time 12:00 - 1:30 pm
Venue Room 3301 (via lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST
Prof. Lynette Ong
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Home  |  HKUST  |  The School  |  Jobs  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us