Society and Identity
The arrests of feminist activists, civil rights lawyer and the leaders of labour NGOs since 2015 and the implementation of Foreign NGO Law in China in 2017 signal a tightened control of civil society in China. Yet we argue that with the sparks of recent social actions, there is a trend of re-embedment rather than a withering of civil society. This re-embedment is reflected in the three strategies of the social activism, namely, localisation through local fundraising, turning underground by acting in the capacity of individual actors, as well as network building of actors. With these strategies, actors in civil society re-embed their actions in the context of local communities, the state and the market. Based on the observation and interviews in a recent study in Guangzhou, we will discuss the possibilities and challenges in this trend of re-embedment. We will conclude with a reflection on the implication of the Guangzhou experience to wider China and other authoritarian state.