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A Preliminary Model of Particularistic Ties in Chinese political Alliances: Kan-ch'ing and Kuan-hsi in a Rural Taiwanese Township

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 February 2009

Extract

When one becomes an official, the entire family prospers … they host banquets and send presents (ch'ing-k'o sung-li). … One can see no organization. Personal acquaintances (ssu-jen) are employed, factions are active, and there are feudal relationships (kuan-hsi) …

Why were the big and small “fleets” [of Lin Piao's anti-party group] openly able to carry out the schemes of forming cliques, engaging in factionalism, and carrying out conspiracies by such acts as hosting banquets (ch'ing-k'o), sending gifts (sung-li), offering official positions and making promises?

In addition to providing himself with extravagant pleasures, Wang Hungwen used the illegally obtained money and goods to host banquets (ch'ing-k'o), and send presents (sung-li) in order to recruit corrupt cadres and conduct anti-party factional activities. So many filthy political exchanges are just so happily arranged in an atmosphere of wine and women. Eat, Eat, Drink, Drink had already become a gauge by which Wang Hung-wen and his “little brothers” measured political relationships (kuan-hsi).

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The China Quarterly 1979

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References

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18. Matsu is a pseudonym for the township in honour of the goddess much beloved by the residents of the field site and the people of Taiwan in general.

19. I have used the Bodman system as modified by Wu Su-chu for Hokkien terms. In the Bodman system an “h” indicates aspiration (as does the apostrophe in Wade-Giles) and a colon “:” signifies a nasalized vowel. See Bodman, Nicholas Cleave-land, Spoken Amoy Hokkien, Vols. I and II (Kuala Lumpur: Charles Grenier, 1955, 1958)Google Scholar; Su-chu, Wu, An Introduction to Taiwanese (Taipei: Yung Ziang Press, 1967)Google Scholar; Su-chu, Wu, Spoken Taiwanese (Taipei: Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies, n.d.)Google Scholar.

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22. In the discussion below I have attempted to show when political alliances based on particularistic ties can become issue-oriented.

23. I have used the Chinese term kuan-hsi in this article for three reasons. First, I wish to emphasise the analysis pertains to Chinese particularistic ties and not to particularistic ties in general. Secondly, the most accurate translation, “Chinese particularistic ties,” is quite awkward. Thirdly, non-speakers of Chinese have indicated that such simpler English translations as “relationship” and “connection” confuse more than they enlighten owing to a lack of equivalency between languages.

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26. Chinese sometimes indicate this flexibility by distinguishing between a broader concept of native place (ta t'ung-hsiang) such as the whole of Fukien Province and a narrower concept (hsiao t'ung-hsiang) such as southern Fukien.

27. For specific voting data, see Jacobs, “Local,” Chs. vi and vii.

28. Mother's brother (chiu-chiu; Hokkien: a-ku), a very important relationship; in the Chinese kinship system.

29. This division follows Matsu practice where most people clearly distinguish, agnatic kin (ch'in-t'ang; Hokkien: chin-tong) from affinal kin (ch'in-ch'i; Hokkien: chin-chiek). On occasion one can hear Matsu residents use the term ch'in-ch'i to include both agnates and affines and a few people say this usage is correct. Most Matsu informants, however, insist the term ch'in-ch'i does not include agnates.

30. Patrilocality generally assures limitation to one village. Ethnographers have reported lineage branches forming in neighbouring villages, but this atypical pattern did not occur in Matsu Township with one possible exception: the Chin of one village had the same origin as the Chin who dominated an adjacent single-surname village, but no kinship, political, social, or religious consequences flowed from this fact.

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35. If a surname is rare, two otherwise unrelated persons tend to feel a special kuan-hsi with each other; but, since the surname is rare, the utility of the same surname kuan-hsi for obtaining political support would be quite limited in this case.

36. Fried, Morton H., “Clans and lineages: how to tell them apart and why with special reference to Chinese society,” Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, No. 29 (Spring 1970), p. 27Google Scholar.

37. For example, Fried, Morton H., “Some political aspects of clanship in a modern Chinese city,” in Swartz, Marc J., Turner, Victor W. and Tuden, Arthur (eds.), Political Anthropology (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1966), pp. 292–93Google Scholar; Baker, Hugh D. R., “Extended kinship in the traditional city,” in Skinner, G. William (ed.), The City in Late Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1977), pp. 504505Google Scholar.

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42. On this point see the excellent analysis of DeGlopper, , “Doing,” pp. 301305Google Scholar and the sources he cites on p. 301.

43. The discussion of kuan-hsi dynamics below shows “utilization” helps make a kuan-hsi closer.

44. Same-surname can be an exception, but, as noted above, the same-surname base is not important in Matsu.

45. In Matsu the Party secretary, police chief and some school principals are Mainlanders though some principals, full-time party cadres and policemen are Taiwanese. The Township Party Committee consists of native Matsu political leaders as does, of course, the leadership of the Public Office, the Farmers' Association and the Township Assembly.

46. The party deliberately attempts to assign professional party cadres to areas where they have no kuan-hsi. Like the Imperial Chinese “rule of avoidance,” party cadres are not supposed to be assigned to their home areas. Another party policy reminiscent of Imperial China is the periodic reassignment of party cadres. Both of these party cadre assignment policies are designed to prevent the development of close kuan-hsi between the cadre and local leaders and thus to make the cadre responsive to the party organization instead of local interests. (The Imperial Chinese policies of assigning officials had the same objective.)

47. Thus, the phenomenon of public kuan-hsi resembles the “family circles” or “family groups” reported in the Soviet polity.

48. The term “public kuan-hsi” had a different meaning in Taiwan during the Japanese period (1895–1945). According to informants, it meant a willingness to be active in public affairs, such as a willingness to serve as village head, help the poor, donate land for a school or cemetery, etc.

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50. Stover, Leon, The Cultural Ecology of Chinese Civilization: Peasants and Elites in the Last of the Agrarian States (New York: New American Library, 1974), p. 261Google Scholar; and Solomon, , Mao's Revolution, pp. 124–25Google Scholar.

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56. Ibid. p. 215.

57. Ibid.

58. Jacobs, , “Local,” pp. 143–44Google Scholar.

59. “[A]bsolute, isolated measurement is meaningless. In all useful measurement, an implicit comparison exists when an explicit one is not visible. ‘Absolute’ measurements is a convenient fiction and usually is nothing more than a shorthand summary. …” Webb, Eugene J., Campbell, Donald T., Schwartz, Richard D., Sechrest, Lee, Unobtrusive Measures: Nonreactive Research in the Social Sciences (Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1966), p. 5Google Scholar.

60. DeGlopper, , “Doing,” p. 318Google Scholar.

61. Fried, Fabric.

62. Ibid. p. 103.

63. Ibid. pp. 103, 227.

64. Ibid. p. 226.

65. Ibid. pp. 103–104.

66.Kan-ch'ing as the term is used in Lukang, refers to the affective component of all human relations” (emphasis added). DeGlopper, , “Doing,” p. 318Google Scholar. In Hsin Hsing kan-ch'ing occurs in agnatic and affinal kinship relationships, but the relationships, must be hierarchical. Gallin, , Hsin Hsing, p. 171Google Scholar.

67. Many Matsu informants note the word kan-ch'ing can also be used to describe love between man and woman, but they say this type of kan-ch'ing is not the same as the kan-ch'ing we are presently analysing.

68. A variety of terms are used: e.g. t'eng (Hokkien: thia:), ai-hu (Hokkien: ai-ho) and jen-tz'u (Hokkien: lin-chu).

69. Fried, , Fabric, p. 103Google Scholar.

70. DeGlopper, refers to the kan-ch'ing of another group, the family. “Doing,” p. 318Google Scholar.

71. A few Matsu informants say kan-ch'ing can also be “bad” (huai; Hokkien: phai:). However, most Matsu people feel unsure or simply reject this usage. In Matsu people do say that kan ch'ing has “become had” (huai-le; Hokkien: phai:-le).

72. Ward, Barbara E., “A small factory in Hong Kong: some aspects of its internal organization,” in Willmott, W. E. (ed.), Economic Organization in Chinese Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1972), pp. 371, 382 and 385Google Scholar.

73. Fried, , Fabric, p. 226Google Scholar.

74. I used the word li-yung (Hokkien: li-iong) which means “utilize” or “use” and connotes self-interest because the usual Chinese word for “exploitation” (po-hsiao; Hokkien: pak-siaq) has very strong implications as well as political overtones.

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76. One-candidate elections are an attempt to overcome electoral loss and the consequent loss of face which causes resentment and protracted conflict. If a pre-election agreement can be made, the “winner” gains office and usually saves considerable campaign funds. The “loser” also wins because he obtains a new; post, the promise of a future uncontested election, and/or money. For Matsu examples see Jacobs, “Local,” Ch. vi.

77. Ibid. pp. 97–99.

78. For the development of Matsu Township's factions and the factions in this village, see ibid. Ch. vi.

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84. For the importance of the Field Army, see Whitson, Chinese High Command.

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87. This approach has been applied to Matsu politics in Jacobs, “Cultural.”

88. For a literate, concise statement noting the persistence of “tradition” in “modern” societies, see Rudolph, Lloyd I. and Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber, The Modernity of Tradition: Political Development in India (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1967), pp. 314Google Scholar.

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90. Nakane, , Japanese Society, pp. 23ff., 102–103Google Scholaret passim. For a good, short introduction to the political implications of Japanese social structure, see Stockwin, J. A. A., Japan: Divided Politics in a Growth Economy (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975), pp. 2234Google Scholar.

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94. See, for example, Phillips, Herbert P., “Social contact vs. social promise in a Siamese village,” in Potter, et al. (eds.), Peasant Society, pp. 348 and 357–58Google Scholar.

95. John F. Embree, as quoted in ibid. p. 358.

96. Potter, Jack M., Thai Peasant Social Structure (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1976)Google Scholar.

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