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Understanding the Role of External Events in Major Policy Change: The Case of Abolition of China’s Labor Reeducation System
  • Huping Shang,
  • Yan Li,
  • Hongmei Liu
Huping Shang
University of Science and Technology of China
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Yan Li
Ocean University of China
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Hongmei Liu
Nankai University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

External events impact significant policy changes. This study integrates the Advocacy Coalition Framework, Multiple Streams model, and Punctuated Equilibrium Theory to analyze how external events influenced China’s abolition of the Labor Reeducation System (LRS). Findings show that external events broke through decision makers’ attention constraints, shifted power dynamics, and created an opportunity for change. Limited learning occurred within coalitions as a tactical response to shocks, while intercoalition learning resulted from higher authorities’ interference. Destabilizing events reduce consensus requirements and reinforce China’s authoritarian decision-making style. The role of external events depends on their alignment with the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) ideology and political interests.