Organizer: Keng-Fong Pang, University of California, Berkeley
Chair and Discussant: John R. Shepherd, University of Virginia
For the first time at the AAS, an entire panel is devoted to understanding Hainan Province, the newest and southernmost province of China created in 1988 and the site of bold economic and political experiments. With preferential policies to attract foreign and Overseas Chinese investments, Hainan Provinces experimentation with new style Chinese capitalism was spearheaded by domestic investment from practically every Chinese province interested in a piece of Hainans "get-rich-quick" pie. Mainlanders, foreigners, and overseas Hainanese readily visit "Chinas Hawaii." This multidisciplinary panel opens with Chongyi Fengs critical analysis of administrative and economic reforms in Hainan under the much-heralded "small government, big society" concept. William Lavelys rich data from the first demographic study of an isolated Li minority area in western Hainan provide another view of a Hainan less touched by development. Beining Zhang examines the complex and contradictory implications of minority Li tourism from multiple political and ethnic perspectives. Keng-Fong Pang presents a multiple-sited anthropological analysis of Hainan Island as a "homeland" from the diaspora. She examines the evolution of biennial international congresses that present the public face of Overseas Hainanese identities and discusses the politics of dealing with a Hainan Overseas Bureau that wants to control "huaqiao" connections. Departing from the traditional format with a discussant, these papers will be made available to interested AAS attendees prior to the meeting upon request, who will then be invited to make commentaries from the audience floor, in addition to the normal questions and answers, in the extended discussion period.
"Small Government" Is Not Enough: The Case of Government Restructuring in Hainan Province
Chongyi Feng, University of Technology, Sydney
This paper is an examination of government restructuring in Chinas Hainan Province since its establishment in 1988. The new round of government restructuring in China initiated by Zhu Rongji since March 1998 has been hailed at home and abroad as an epoch-making event for the success of the historic transition of the Chinese communist state, but has so far produced little results. As the first province in China to elaborate on the theory of "small government, big society" and the first province to put this theory into practice, the outcome and ramifications of administrative reforms in Hainan deserve scrutiny. There is no clear indication that government restructuring in Hainan has resulted in the smooth operation of a market economy or superior economic performance. This paper argues that, for a fair and transparent regulatory environment and a healthy market economy to emerge, administrative reform aimed primarily at streamlining the government is not a viable alternative to political reforms to fundamentally change the power structure of the party-state itself.
Social Demography of a Hainan Meifu Li Community
William R. Lavely, University of Washington
The Li nationality of Hainan Island has been little studied since the ethnographic investigations of the 1950s. Least known and studied is the Meifu Li, an upland people on the west side of the island. This is a report of a demographic survey of an isolated Meifu village community in Dongfang County. It is based on open-ended interviews and on a questionnaire survey of all ever-married women in the village, a total of 115 respondents age 19 to 75. The survey investigated basic questions about family economy and demography, marriage, fertility, and social networks. There is sufficient retrospective depth to permit a basic description of demographic and social change over the past four decades. The physical isolation of the village is compounded by its marriage system. Village households are divided among four patrilines. Over 60 percent of our respondents were born in the village, that is, they married into their natal village, and among these, half report that their own mother and mother-in-law were also born in the village. The village is thus a highly self-contained community in which both males and females grow up and spend their lives among their natal kin. Brides from outside generally come from two neighboring villages less than two kilometers away. The result is a village society with a multiplicity of kinship ties, a high degree of social solidarity, and patterns of intense cooperation between households that often share blood ties, affinal ties, and neighborly relations across several generations.
The Advent of Ethnic Tourism and the Change in Social Values Among the Li
Beining Zhang, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
This paper analyzes how the Li, a minority nationality in China, have adapted themselves to dramatic economic reforms, and how they have coped with the influx of tourists. Through an examination of the development of ethnic tourism, it will investigate how contradictions arise from conflicting interests and agendas of various social groups, including the state, domestic and international tourists, the Han, and the Li; how different political ideologies and social values are differentially employed; and how Li culture is negotiated, (re)invented and presented in performances. It will highlight an assessment of a hypothesis about the ingenuity and potential of the Li in dealing with cultural change amidst multiple pressures such as the states political hegemony, Han majority chauvinism, and the intrusion of tourists. This paper makes an inquiry into an ethnic problem that few ethnic minorities in China other than the Li have encountered: the fact that their concentrated area of residence is within one of Chinas Special Economic Zones. This paper will also present qualitative analyses on how the Li accept, interpret, and manipulate the three kinds of contesting values to which they are being exposedstate socialist, Western capitalist, and traditional Lito informally organize against their marginalization and to struggle for equality and justice in todays Hainan.
Managing Relations with the "Homeland" in a Chinese Diaspora: The Organization of International Congresses Among Overseas Hainanese
Keng-Fong Pang, University of California, Berkeley
During the late 1980s and 1990s, several diasporic associations from various speech communities originating in China have organized to meet in biennial international congresses. One group, the Overseas Hainanese, have long kept a relatively quiet profile until the 1988 transformation of Hainan Island from a backwaters of China into a special economic zone as Chinas newest province, independent of Guangdong province. Long ignored by the political center, Hainanese people, both in China and overseas, have often felt a sense of not really being understood by fellow Chinese. With the acquisition of the long-hoped-for provincial status, Overseas Hainanese pride was evident and many visited Hainan for the first time. Hainan Provinces Overseas Chinese Bureau worked hard to attract Overseas Hainanese investment and visited Hainanese associations all over Southeast Asia and elsewhere. But the reality of the new Hainan Province was also a sobering wake-up call to many Overseas Hainanese: Hainan Island is now politically and economically dominated by mainlanders who do not speak Hainanese and who see themselves as bearers of the new modern progressive Hainan identity. Hainan island has definitely been transformed, but where is the Hainanese soul? Based on extensive field research in Hainan and interviews with Overseas Hainanese in Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia, as well as participant-observation and interview data from the organization of the 1999 Congress in Malaysia, this paper analyzes the management of uneasy relations with the "homeland" from the perspectives of both formal organizations and individual families.