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Børge Bakken has worked at Oslo University, Copenhagen University, Harvard, Ludwig Maximillian Munich University, Hong Kong University, and The Australian National University. He has written extensively on sociological and criminological issues in China. Among his books are The Exemplary Society (Oxford University Press 2000) and Crime and the Chinese Dream (Hong Kong University Press 2018).

On Detention, ‘Dirty Work’, and Extra-legal Policing in China

Detention is just one of the ways in which the Chinese police force and legal system maximise discretion and evade accountability, all in the name of upholding social order. Detention takes many forms and is often linked to extra-legal methods of intimidation and harassment of the people who become victims of its operations. In criminology, such practices are termed ‘dirty work’, and the paradox in today’s China is that ‘dirt’ and ‘harmony’ are forming an unholy alliance in the name of ‘stability maintenance’.

Snapshots of China’s ‘Uncivil Society’

Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party has reinvigorated its attempts to eradicate detrimental ‘Western ideas’. This has resulted in the assertion that civil society is nothing more than a concept, if not a trap set by the West. In practice, however, this effort has led to the emergence of a very different—uncivil—type of society.

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