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China Analysis Digest #78

A weekly curated list of new China-related analyses.

Date range: October 17-24, 2022

Sources scanned: 122

Publications: 201 (English), 43 (Chinese)

China Watching

China Neican

Reading the China Dream

"Huntington had an enormous influence...His influence extended to China in ways that he surely did not foresee. Wang Huning, the former academic, current Politburo Standing Committee member...took Huntington’s ideas about the importance of culture in the “clash of civilizations” to argue that China needed to protect and nurture her own culture and guard against convergence (see here). New Left spokesman Jiang Shigong cites Huntington’s Political Order in Changing Societies (1968) to support his case that American interventions (“color revolutions”) to impose democracy in the Third World are not only wrong-headed but counter-productive (see here). The liberal Xu Jilin sites Who Are We nearly chapter and verse to argue that identity politics will destroy the American political consensus (see here). Something about Huntington’s hard-headed nationalism and impatience with “eggheads” (today’s “snowflakes”) clearly appeals to many Chinese establish intellectuals."

Made in China Journal

China Heritage

"[Wu Guoguang:] [T]he fascinating secret of the Party Congress lies in its strange combination of political hollowness and institutional holiness...institutional duality, incongruity, and self-contradiction...

...institutional manipulations are manifested in a variety of ways, specifically by arising within this institutional inconsistency; by harnessing and maneuvering various norms, rules, and procedures; by actualizing power dominance of “puppet” participations; and by demanding the pompous display of so-called “confirmative legitimacy” in which elite consensus and the political loyalty of those who are involved overwhelm the participants’ autonomous articulation of various interests and substantial representation of constituencies. Conceptually, it suggests a theory of authoritarian legitimization that focuses on power domination, institutional manipulation, and symbolic performance in a political and institutional context that differs greatly from a democratic one but “steals the beauty,” so to speak, from democracy in order to legitimize contemporary authoritarianism."

China Media Project

China Brief

"The nature of United Front Work is that of the CCP reaching out to individuals, groups, classes or even countries it needs to achieve its goals at any given time and for periods ranging from months to years or decades. This was once framed as reaching out to classes outside the Party’s “natural” constituencies...Because the goal of the Party was the full socialization of the means of production and thereby eliminating the basis of classes and the achievement of communism, to win the support or at least acquiescence of other classes with useful assets (money, knowledge, influence, etc.) who would be the eventual target of elimination, concessions would be made to their material interests under the banner of greater altruistic causes which seemingly justified the CCP compromising if not hiding their revolutionary principles...

The greater cause of eventual revolutionary success justifies concessions in the here-and-now...What this means in practice is that any promises made in united front context by a revolutionary communist party, such as the CCP are always conditional and contingent on Party needs and circumstances and/or the degree to which the Party’s goals have been met or become endangered."

Comment: the Party's approach to United Front has always been instrumental, but at the same time, across various contexts, the United Front principles of inclusiveness and tolerance were entrenched in the Party's policies. For instance, China historian Benno Weiner, in The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier, shows how United Front principles were not just a cover for intrigue but rather genuinely held beliefs. In expanding the Communist state into the Tibetan frontier lands, earlier policies focus on inclusiveness, non-struggle, and organic transformation instead of revolutionary upheaval and state coercion. Of course, state coercion of the Tibetan pastoralists came later as United Front principles gave way to revolutionary impatience.

Opinion Pages

Project Syndicate

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