How does "rightful resistance" take place in contemporary rural China? The continuously evolving village election system, the abolishment of the agricultural tax, and a new insistence on fighting corruption seemingly have created more space for the rural population in China to defend its rights. However, the central state's emphasis on solving the so-called three rural issues (sannong wenti 三农 问题)—raising incomes and welfare for the rural population, modernizing the countryside, and developing industrialized and modern agriculture—in a topdown manner and the continued use of "project-based management" have also greatly decreased the ability of the rural population to influence the agenda of the state and have thereby increased the potential for friction between the local state and its rural citizens. This article is a case study of a dispute between villagers and local cadres about the implementation of a reforestation project. While the case shows that villagers have several avenues for protest, it also hints at the low effectiveness of their protest and the continued existence of important structural obstacles dealing with different levels of the administration, including the atomization of villagers, the volatile nature of their interest coalition, and a profound lack of allies in society.


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pp. 645-670
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