I have contributed to the theory of deliberative democracy by formulating and explaining the concept of authoritarian deliberation. The theory of authoritarian deliberation offers a great opportunity for deliberative democratic theorists to expand new research territories in an authoritarian context. In 2018, Dr Michael Breen and I further tested the idea of authoritarian deliberation in Myanmar where there is a complex semi-authoritarian system.
Deliberative Institutional Design
I have examined the variety of consultative and deliberative institutions in contemporary China which were not known of in the West a decade ago (He 2006). In collaboration with Professor James Fishkin, I applied Deliberative Poll (DP) methodology to Zeguo Township, Wenling City, China, to improve the existing public consultation methods. It was employed in the making of actual decisions about local infrastructure construction and all the decisions made with regards the project have since been implemented. I have also applied DP methods in the participatory budgeting process in China and explored how to improve this. Michael Breen and I also adapted deliberative polling methods to the Myanmar situation when we facilitated five deliberative forums on federal constitutionalism issues in 2018.
Expanding deliberative democracy study into new research areas
I have applied deliberative approaches to the Tibet issue, the national boundary question in divided societies, and the history dispute in Northeast Asia. My single authored book, Governing Taiwan and Tibet: Democratic Approaches, developed the theoretical and practical notion of “deliberative referendum”.
Identifiable benefits outside of academia
Between 2005 and 2010 I organised a series of deliberative polls in China including three deliberative polls in Zeguo, four deliberative polls at Bianyu village, a deliberative poll at a company, and one deliberative forum in Huizhou. More than 800 randomly selected citizens participated in deliberation directly and they represented statistically the total population of nearly 600,000 people at Wenling City. I have also worked with the Zeguo leadership in 2007 to deepen the participatory budgeting process, that is, to subject all items of township budgets to a democratic and deliberative process involving both randomly selected citizens and elected people’s deputies. My work on deliberative democracy has had a direct policy impact on local democratisation in China. Evidence of this may be found in the Central Party School’s journal Study Times, whose editorial on 12 December 2005 endorsed my deliberative experiment and called for the spread of this democratic consultation and deliberation process across China. In addition, Xia Anguo, the Deputy Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province, issued an internal official document advocating that the deliberative polling method be widely used to reduce social conflicts in 2005. The results of deliberative polling experiments were reported by the media including Studies Time, 25 April 2005; The New York Times, 19 June 2005, Le Monde, 30 Dec 2005 and People’s Daily (Huadong Xinwen), 7 June 2006.
Alfred Deakin Professor, Chair in International Relations, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts & Education, Deakin University
Mayer prize by the APSA in 1994, Reagan-Fascell Fellow in 2003, the W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow at Hoover Institute in 2008, and Alfred Deakin Professorship, the highest honor awarded at Deakin in August 2016
1. Contested Ideas of Regionalism in Asia (London: Routledge, 2016)
2. “Deliberative Participatory Budgeting: A Case Study of Zeguo Town, China”, Public Administration and Development, 2019, DOI: 10.1002/pad.1853.
3. “Diversity Leadership Multiculturalism: The Challenge of the Securitization of Chinese Migrants in Australia”, International Social Science Journal, Vol 68, Issue No 227-228, pp. 119-131, 2018, online publication on 2 Jan, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1111/issj.12168.
4. “The Domestic Politics of the Belt and Road Initiative and its Implications”, in The Journal of Contemporary China, volume 28, no. 116, 2019, pp. 180-195. Reprinted in Suisheng Zhao, ed., China’s New Global Strategy, NY: Routledge, 2020, pp. 104-119.
5. “The Covenant Connection Reexamined: The Nexus between Religions and Federalism in Asia”, (with Laura Allison-Reumann and Michael Breen, Political Studies, 66(3):752-770, 2018, online publication in 2017, DOI: 10.1177/0032321717731660.