Media coverage, industrial policy, and safety : explaining shifting state and Private ownership in China's coal-mining industry
Author(s)Martin, Nicholas, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Explaining shifting state and Private ownership in China's coal-mining industry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
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This thesis uses the case of large-scale, expropriatory nationalization of private coal mines to investigate the puzzle of uneven policy implementation in China. It casts new light on the role media coverage and public opinion play in the Chinese policy process, on the party-state's disciplinary (wenze) practices, and on the dynamics of China's state capitalism and the apparent "advance of state and retreat of private firms" (Guo Jin, Min Tui) in the late 2000s. Despite being an authoritarian state, China often finds implementing policies that damage the interests of local political and business elites difficult. Decisions-making and implementation usually require extensive bargaining, and stasis often prevails. Yet occasionally dramatic change does occur. One particularly puzzling case is coal mining. Since the late-1990s central-state actors had sought to consolidate the industry under large state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and eliminate the substantial privately-owned mining sector. However, this clashed with the interests of owners and local officials, for whom the private mines were major providers of fiscal revenue and bribes. A major closure campaign by the Center in the late-1990s failed. Yet after 2007 - in the face of much conflict - several, though not all, of the major coal provinces forcibly nationalized most of the private mines, creating the SOE-dominated coal industries that local officials had previously resisted. These different outcomes resulted from the interaction of varying accident patterns, uneven media coverage, and state disciplinary practices. Nationalization occurred only after the Chinese media began reporting extensively on mining accidents, and only in those provinces most under the media spotlight. Variation in coverage was driven by geologically-based variation in accident patterns. Intensive coverage turned accidents into "sudden incidents" (tufa shijian) perceived to threaten social stability and state legitimacy. This media-generated pressure was reinforced by the disciplinary apparatus, which was itself responsive to media coverage and accident patterns. A subset of coal provinces thus came under particularly intense political pressure to implement central policy and resolve the industry's safety problem, leading ultimately to nationalization.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Political Science, 2016.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 331-399).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology