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The Decline and Rise of DemocracyA Global History from Antiquity to Today$
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David Stasavage

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691177465

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691177465.001.0001

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China as the Bureaucratic Alternative

China as the Bureaucratic Alternative

Chapter:
(p.138) 6 China as the Bureaucratic Alternative
Source:
The Decline and Rise of Democracy
Author(s):

David Stasavage

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691177465.003.0006

This chapter focuses on how China provides the starkest alternative to the western European experience in terms of political development. It discusses how Westerners have sometimes seen China as an aberration that carries the culturalist baggage of an older era, which is a case called “oriental despotism.” The chapter considers the evolution of the Chinese state from the earliest dynasties, the Xia and the Shang, to its final dynasty, the Qing. It emphasizes how the Shang dynasty set the stage for what would become China's bureaucratic alternative. It also describes the early development of intensive, high-yield agriculture that provided a better explanation for Chinese autocracy.

Keywords:   China, Westerners, political development, older era, oriental despotism, Shang dynasty, Chinese autocracy, Chinese state evolution

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