Governance of the Water Community in the South-central Region of the People's Republic of China
This research delves into the transformation of the water community during the 1950s under the new regime. At that time, approximately 4 million people inhabited the rivers and lakes, earning their livelihoods through fishing and water transportation. This community formed a highly mobile society, interconnected through boat gangs, trade organizations and clans. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, the CCP government initiated political campaigns to dismantle the traditional power structures of labour contractors, boat gangs and clans. To centralise the management of the water community, specialized administrative bodies, including grassroots authorities and public security institutions, were gradually established. The communist government also established shipping and fishery management agencies to facilitate national administration of the water community. Local governments implemented policies to regulate employment, provide loans, establish supply networks and standardize prices. Members of the water community were organized into national organizations and played a significant role in the economic development of the 1950s. They not only ensured smooth transportation for the Unified Purchase and marketing of grain but also contributed to national fisheries, water conservancy and flood relief efforts.

Professor Yunxian Ren, China Centre Academic Visitor, earned a PhD in history from Beijing Normal University and now teaches at Nanchang Hangkong University. Her research interests include diplomatic concepts, the history of education in China and China’s history in the 1950s. Currently, she is conducting research on the governance of the water community in the South-central Region of the People’s Republic of China.
Date: 24 May 2024, 13:00 (Friday, 5th week, Trinity 2024)
Venue: Dickson Poon Building, Canterbury Road OX2 6LU
Venue Details: Lucina Ho Seminar Room (first floor)
Speaker: Professor Yunxian Ren (Nanchang Hangkong University)
Organising department: Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Organiser: Dr Annie Hongping Nie
Organiser contact email address:
Host: Dr Annie Hongping Nie (University of Oxford)
Part of: Mandarin Forum
Booking required?: Not required
Cost: Free
Audience: Public
Editor: Clare Orchard