Critical Security and Chinese Politics
The Anti-Falungong Campaign
By Juha Vuori
Routledge – 2014 – 208 pages
Series: PRIO New Security Studies
This book examines how critical approaches to security developed in Europe can be used to investigate a Chinese security issue - the case of the Falungong.
The past few decades have produced a rich field of theoretical approaches to ‘security’ in Europe. In this book, the security-specific notions of securitization (Wæver), the politics of insecurity (Huysmans), and emancipation (Wyn Jones) are used as analytical approaches to investigate the anti-Falungong campaign in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This campaign, launched in 1999, was directed against a semi-religious group of qigong-practitioners which was presented as a grave threat to society and as jeopardizing socialism in China. The largest security-related propaganda campaign since 1989 made this obscure group a household name around the world. The campaign had major impacts: new legislation was established to battle the claimed threat of the group and human rights organizations reported severe mistreatment of practitioners. Today, more than a decade later, the Falungong and its master Li Hongzhi continue to challenge the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), mainly outside China and online.
This book approaches one empirical case with three approaches in order to transcend the tendency to pit one approach against another. The book strives to show how these critical frameworks highlight different aspects of the political and social processes that have been involved in the campaign. Such a setup places the concepts in a comparative perspective, not only in abstract theoretical and political terms as has been done before, but in the conduct of research, in the hope that this will produce renewed engagement between the solidified oppositions in the field. Furthermore, this is used as a vehicle to discuss more general philosophical issues of theory, development, and theory development. Topics such as instrumentalist philosophy of science, interests of knowledge, activism in scholarship as well as both conceptual and theory travel are examined in light of the stated goals of critical approaches to security. Such discussions are necessary in order to apply the frameworks in investigations that go beyond the socio-political context they were originally developed in. The examination of different approaches to a single case will also assist students to comprehend the effects research framework selection has on a piece of research, and at the same time to realize the limits and tensions of the frameworks.
This book will be of interest to students of critical security studies, Chinese politics, research methods and IR in general.
1: Introduction: Case Studies and Theory Development 2: The Chinese Political Order and the Falungong 3: Critical Approaches to Security in Europe 4: Three Takes on the Anti-Falungong Campaign 5: Conclusion: Theory, Development and Theory Development
Juha A. Vuori is lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Contemporary History, University of Turku, Finland. He has a PhD in International Relations.