Whose New Normal? Framing the Economic Slowdown Under Xi Jinping
After decades of double-digit economic growth, China experienced a significant drop in GDP growth rates in the wake of the global financial crisis. For the new Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping, who had assumed power in the fall of 2012, analysts predicted a looming crisis due to the alleged decline in the regime’s performance legitimacy. This article argues against a mechanistic application of the notion of performance legitimacy. Instead, it proposes to take into account the role of ideology in mediating public perceptions of regime performance. By tracking the career of the concept of “new normal” in Chinese public discourse over a period of three years – from late 2013 to late 2016 – it shows how the economic slowdown has been framed in ways conducive to the reproduction of regime legitimacy. The findings suggest an intense process of ideological contestation and decontestation, in which the domestic reflection of foreign audiences and their recognition of the Chinese regime’s performance have gained in importance.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11366-018-9539-6
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