Panel #1 China’s Response to COVID-19: Bureaucracy, Governance and Public Opinion

Panel Abstract: The COVID-19 outbreak in China has been dramatically changing the world. What do we learn about Chinese politics from China’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? This panel comprises four papers that provide an answer to this question from various perspectives including bureaucratic politics, local governance, and public opinion. In the first paper, Jiwei Qian and Yoel Kornreich examine the uneven bureaucratic responses across the two phases (before and after January 20, 2020) of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, emphasizing the role of hybrid bureaucracy that combines both legal-rational elements and features of fragmented authoritarianism. In the second paper, Jielu Yao, Yuehong Tai, and Elise Pizzi collected data on the adoption of eighteen policies used to contain COVID-19 in all 33 provinces in China to explain why some provinces were more proactive and adopted policies earlier than others in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The third paper, by Sabrina Habich-Sobiegalla and Franziska Plümmer, utilizes a convenience sample of local cases and additionally a crucial case study of Zhuji County-level city to scrutinize how grid-style social management was put in use by the Chinese party-state since the outbreak of COVID-19. Finally, analyzing over five million original posts from Sina Weibo between December 2019 and February 2020, Yingdan Lu, Jennifer Pan, and Yiqing Xu find spikes of both criticism and regime support during the Wuhan lockdown and death of Dr. Li Wenliang, highlighting a need for more precise and systematic measurement of public opinion on social media. Altogether, this panel provides valuable food for thought and discussion on Chinese bureaucracy, local governance, and public opinion during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Chair: Dali YANG (University of Chicago)

Discussant: Andrew MERTHA (Johns Hopkins SAIS)

Discussant: Jane DUCKETT (University of Glasgow)

• Explaining China’s Uneven Response to COVID-19: The Role of Hybrid Bureaucracy

Jiwei QIAN (National University of Singapore) and Yoel KORNREICH (Tel Aviv University)

• Variations in Government Action: Policy Innovation during the COVID-19 Crisis

Jielu YAO (Wesleyan University), Yuehong TAI (University of Iowa), and Elise PIZZI (University of Iowa)

• Casting Ancient Nets: Grid-Style Social Management During the Corona Crisis

Sabrina HABICH-SOBIEGALLA (Freie University Berlin) and Franziska PLÜMMER (University of Vienna)

• Public Sentiment on Chinese Social Media during the Emergence of COVID-19

Yingdan LU (Stanford University), Jennifer PAN (Stanford University) and Yiqing XU (Stanford University)

Please note that the 2021 APSA Chinese Politics Mini-Conference has an adjusted schedule and moved to Zoom. APSA registrants are welcomed to attend. We will also project Zoom from the APSA conference room (Conference Center, Tahoma 4). For more information, see schedule and virtual plan on the website menu.)