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Abstract

This paper examines how China’s stability maintenance regime responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. I show how party organs in hospitals or neighborhoods worked collaboratively with the police force but shifted shared goals of keeping outsiders uninformed of the outbreak to that of controlling the society and assisting efforts of the state to contain the pandemic once the central government formally recognized the outbreak and decided to take drastic measures. Married existing theories of stability maintenance to crisis management, I argue that stability maintenance institutions undermined the autonomy of frontline health workers and therefore made not only the public but central government inaccessible to key information at the early warning stage, but they appeared to be conducive to disease control and greatly enhanced state’s mobilizational capacity at the stage of comprehensive engagement.

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