The Past in the Present
This epilogue re-examines China's contemporary protests, with a focus on the revival of traditionalist repertoires in light of the insights generated by this study. It shows that mid-Qing traditions of protest persisted into contemporary China. The repertoires of many protests today are marked by the protesters' propensity to restrict their confrontation and violence, if any, to specific local officials. At the same time, they are keen to seek sympathy from higher-level officials through submissive petitions at different central-government organs, above all Beijing's “letter and visit” (xinfang) bureau, which specializes in receiving complaints from grassroots citizens against the wrongdoings of local cadres. The claims of today's Chinese protesters also echo those of many mid-Qing protests. Most recent demands have involved subsistence rights. They include protests against corrupt officials who threaten protesters' livelihoods through excessive tax levies or the illegal appropriation of farmland.
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