in: Mohan, Brij (ed.), Global frontiers of social development in theory and practice - climate, economy and justice, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 167-188
This chapter focuses on the use of the term governance in the context of the People’s Republic in China. While governance, in particular global governance, is often connoted with a certain universal applicability and a depoliticized and solutions-oriented form of public management, China may be regarded as a crucial case. The main concern brought forward is that the political context of the Chinese party-state differs too much from Western liberal democracies to readily apply not only the concept but also the more concrete ideas and instruments of “governance.” We provide an overview of the origins and meanings of the governance concept in the West and of how it entered China. Subsequently, this chapter discusses instances of shifts in governance at different levels of governance (global, national, and local) and points out the differences between generalized understandings of governance and their application to China. As a crucial case, the discussion of governance and China also contributes to a more general understanding that governance, applied to non-Western contexts, can play an important role in comparative understandings. Rather than assuming “global” and “general” understandings of governance, specific governance contexts can act as mirrors and testing grounds for governance models and instruments.