Among other charges, he was accused of having gazed at West Berlin through binoculars during a visit to East Germany years earlier. He was detained in a military garrison, where he passed the years by walking in circles, he said later—ten thousand laps, and then ten thousand walking backward.
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Moreover, being born red was becoming a liability. Xi and the sons of other targeted officials stayed together, getting into street fights and swiping books from shuttered libraries. Later, Xi described that period as a dystopian collapse of control.
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To my mind there was no difference between being executed a hundred times or once, so why be afraid of a hundred times? The Red Guards wanted to scare me, saying that now I was to feel the democratic dictatorship of the people, and that I only had five minutes left. But in the end, they told me, instead, to read quotations from Chairman Mao every day until late at night. He was assigned to Liangjiahe, a village flanked by yellow cliffs. To avoid work, he took up smoking—nobody bothered a man smoking—and lingered in the bathroom. After three months, he fled to Beijing, but he was arrested and returned to the village.
In what later became the centerpiece of his official narrative, Xi was reborn. At one point, he received a letter informing him that his older half-sister Xi Heping had died. Close associates have said to me, on the record, that after a decade of persecution she hanged herself from a shower rail. After Xi befriended a local official, he was accepted.
In January, , he gained full Party membership and became secretary of the village. His drive to join the Party baffled some of his peers. That spring, Xi Zhongxun was rehabilitated, after sixteen years of persecution. When the family reunited, he could not recognize his grown sons. His faith never wavered. But I look past the superficial things: the power and the flowers and the glory and the applause. I see the detention houses, the fickleness of human relationships. I understand politics on a deeper level. But Xi stayed and, year by year, invested more deeply in the Party.
Xi wore a military uniform and made valuable connections at Party headquarters. He told the diplomat that the couple divorced when Ke decided to move to England and Xi stayed behind. In , shortly before Xi turned thirty, he asked to be sent back to the countryside, and was assigned to a horse-cart county in Hebei Province. He wanted to be the county secretary—the boss—but the provincial chief resented privileged offspring from Party headquarters and made Xi the No. It was the Chinese equivalent of trading an executive suite at the Pentagon for a mid-level post in rural Virginia.
Within a year, though, Xi was promoted, and he honed his political skills. In , he spent two weeks in Iowa as part of an agricultural delegation. In the town of Muscatine, he stayed with Eleanor and Thomas Dvorchak. Xi did not introduce himself as a Communist Party secretary; his business card identified him as the head of the Shijiazhuang Feed Association.
In , on a trip to the U. He would think everything through before opening his mouth. He rarely talked about his family, because he had a difficult past and a disappointing marriage. He was a good judge of people. Xi later said that he decided within forty minutes to ask her to marry him. They married the following year, and in , after the crackdown on student demonstrators, Peng was among the military singers who were sent to Tiananmen Square to serenade the troops. In , they had a daughter. As it became clear that Xi would be a top leader, Peng gave up the diva gowns and elaborate hairdos in favor of pants suits and the occasional military uniform.
Fans still mobbed her, while he stood patiently to the side, but for the most part she stopped performing and turned her attention to activism around H. For years, Xi and Peng spent most of their time apart. The posting to the south put Xi closer to his father. It was a risky position: at a Politburo meeting in , the Old Guard attacked the liberal standard-bearer, Hu Yaobang. His son avoided overly controversial reforms as he rose through the ranks. In , a local propaganda official, Kang Yanping, submitted a proposal for a TV miniseries promoting political reform, but Xi replied with skepticism.
Is it a reasonable point? Xi prosecuted corruption at some moments and ignored it at others. A Chinese executive told the U. Xi also found a way to live with Chen Kai, a local tycoon who ran casinos and brothels in the center of town, protected by the police chief.
Later, Chen was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death, and fifty government officials were prosecuted for accepting bribes from him. Xi was never linked to the cases, but they left a stain on his tenure. Xi proved adept at navigating internal feuds and alliances. After he took over the economically vibrant province of Zhejiang, in , he created policies intended to promote private businesses. He encouraged taxi services to buy from Geely, the car company that later bought Volvo. He soothed conservatives, in part by reciting socialist incantations.
In , he encountered a prime opportunity to show his political skills: a corruption scandal in Shanghai was implicating associates of Jiang Zemin, the powerful former President, who served from to Xi was sent to Shanghai to take over. He projected toughness to the public without alienating Jiang. He rejected the villa that had been arranged for him, announcing that it would be better used as a retirement home for veteran comrades. His timing was fortunate: a few months later, senior Party officials were choosing the next generation of top leaders. Xi was expected to lose to Li Keqiang, a comrade who had no revolutionary family pedigree, and had postgraduate degrees in law and economics from Peking University.
Since , the highest ranks of Chinese politics had been dominated by men who elbowed their way in on the basis of academic or technocratic merit. It was not entirely a compliment. In February, Wang Lijun, a former police chief, tried to defect to the U. Party leaders feared that Bo might protect himself with the security services at his command, disrupt the transition of power, and tear the Party apart.
In September, Ling Jihua, the chief of staff of the outgoing President, was abruptly demoted, and he was later accused of trying to cover up the death of his son, who had crashed a black Ferrari while accompanied by two women. Beset by crises, Xi suddenly disappeared. On September 4, , he cancelled a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and visits with other dignitaries.
As the days passed, lurid rumors emerged, ranging from a grave illness to an assassination attempt. When he reappeared, on September 19th, he told American officials that he had injured his back. In dozens of conversations this winter, scholars, officials, journalists, and executives told me that they suspect he did have a health problem, and also reasons to exploit it. They speculate that Xi, in effect, went on strike; he wanted to install key allies, and remove opponents, before taking power, but Party elders ordered him to wait.
On November 15, , Xi became General Secretary. Western politicians often note that Xi has the habits of a retail pol: comfort on the rope line, gentle questions for every visitor, homey anecdotes. On a trip to Los Angeles, he told students that he likes to swim, read, and watch sports on television, but rarely has time.
In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People last year, Party officials were chatting and glad-handing during a lengthy break, but Xi never budged. Xi believed that there was a grave threat to China from within. According to U. Xi surrounded himself with a shadow cabinet that was defined less by a single ideology than by school ties and political reliability. Members included Liu He, a childhood playmate who had become a reform-minded economist, and Liu Yuan, a hawkish general and the son of former President Liu Shaoqi. The most important was Wang Qishan, a friend for decades, who was placed in charge of the Central Commission on Discipline and Inspection, the agency that launched the vast anticorruption campaign.
The Party had long cultivated an image of virtuous unanimity. They brought corruption charges against officials at the state-planning and state-assets commissions, which protect the privileges of large government-run monopolies. When police searched homes belonging to the family of Lieutenant General Gu Junshan, a senior logistics chief, they removed four truckloads of wine, art, cash, and other luxuries. By the end of , the Party had announced the punishment of more than a hundred thousand officials on corruption charges. Geremie Barme, the historian who heads the Australian Centre on China in the World, analyzed the forty-eight most high-profile arrests, and discovered that none of them were second-generation reds.
In the paper, the guy cited a joke: Brezhnev brings his mother to Moscow. He proudly shows her the state apartments at the Kremlin, his Zil limousine, and the life of luxury he now lives. That fear was heightened by a surge of unrest in Tibet in , in Xinjiang in , and across the Arab world in Last September, when pro-democracy protests erupted in Hong Kong, an opinion piece in the Global Times , a state-run daily, accused the National Endowment for Democracy and the C.
When he launched the anticorruption campaign, activists—such as the lawyer Xu Zhiyong, who had served as a local legislator in Beijing—joined in, calling on officials to disclose their incomes. But Xu and many others were arrested. It was real. The influence of Western states was becoming more obvious and more powerful.
He is now a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch called this the harshest suppression of dissent in a decade. Although Vladimir Putin has suffocated Russian civil society and neutered the press, Moscow stores still carry books that are critical of him, and a few long-suffering blogs still find ways to attack him. Xi is less tolerant. He had received a phone call warning him not to proceed with publication. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, on charges of smuggling seven cans of paint.
For years, Chinese intellectuals distinguished between words and actions: Western political ideas could be discussed in China as long as nobody tried to enact them. Sealing China off from Western ideas poses some practical problems. On a personal level, he expresses warm memories of Iowa, and he sent his daughter, Xi Mingze, to Harvard.
She graduated last year, under a pseudonym, and has returned to China. Xi has been far bolder than his predecessors in asserting Chinese control over airspace and land, sending an oil rig into contested waters, and erecting buildings, helipads, and other facilities on reefs that are claimed by multiple nations. But, as war in Ukraine has dragged on, Xi has become less complimentary of Putin. The Obama Administration has declined to adopt the phrase. Xi and Obama have met, at length, five times. Chinese cultural tradition is in no way restricted to Confucianism.
The term Confucianism itself is rather problematic since it is used in the Western world to refer to a system of thought, a religion, and even various local customs and social practices. It is its very political application of Confucianism that ensured its survival for thousands of years. Marxism or Confucianism? For China, the s did not mean only the beginning of a successful period of economic reforms, but also a period of cultural freedom when many of the topics that had been considered taboo could once again be publically addressed and debated.
One of the most debated topics, especially in the intellectual circles, was that of tradition with special emphasis on the importance of Confucianism to Chinese culture. On the mainland, the debate on the role of Confucianism in shaping China and creating a Chinese identity started in early s and developed rapidly, so that in , the National Office for Philosophy and Social Science Quanguo zhexue shehui kexue bangongshi nominated research on New Confucianism as key-research and named professors Fang Keli and Li Jinquan in charge with a project funded under the seventh five-year plan, which was eventually extended for another five years, in Hu, According to Yang Sung-moo , between and , there were events related to Confucius that were organized on the Chinese mainland alone, while Li Qiqian noted that new organizations dedicated to research of Confucian thought had been established on regular basis, listing the most important 15 organizations established between and , with The China Confucius Foundation as the most important.
Makeham mentions that Li listed only the most important organizations, leaving out some of the smaller one, and quotes Zhang Shuhua saying that by the beginning of the 21st century, the number of such organizations was close to one hundred. The whole debate on the importance of tradition to the creation of a Chinese identity could not leave supporters of Marxism indifferent.
While enjoying or not the success of the Reform and Opening policies, the Chinese people, and especially the Chinese youth, lost its faith in Marxist ideology of the Communist Party. After the beginning of the new century, continuous economic success, increasing contacts between China and the Western world and access to modern means of communication aggravated the ideological crisis faced by the Party, in spite of constant reminders that Marxism was still its core ideology.
There are people who oppose the two year periods and use the great achievements during the last 30 years of Reform and Opening to deny the first 30 years after the founding of the new China and call it a period of repeated mistakes by the Party, when certain Party leaders killed and fought one another for power and wealth, a period when the people lived miserable lives. There has been a lot of discussion regarding the meaning of sinicized Marxism among the Party intellectuals, but if there is one element that draws consensus that is the fact that Marxism has been going through a continuous process of sinicization ever since it was first introduced in China.
The concern of this paper is the role of tradition, mainly of Confucianism, in this process of sinicization. Needless to say, this is also a highly debated topic by the Marxist scholars. Confucianism per se is rarely ever mentioned in the official political discourse; most of the times Marxist intellectuals underline the richness of the traditional culture which is composed from much more than Confucianism. What happens then, when Marxism meets Confucianism?
Nowadays, many Marxist scholars do not see Confucianism and Marxism as total opposites any longer and consider dialogue between the two possible. Zhang Shibao reckons that, in the last hundred years since Marxism entered China, the relation between the two ideologies went though three stages: opposition duikang , before , confrontation duizhi , between to the s, and dialogue, after the s.
How much should Confucianism be allowed to influence Marxism is a very complex matter debated within the Party. Occasional employment of Confucian concepts and values by the highest leaders of the Party makes virtually impossible to openly oppose Confucianism. One can criticize it, but cannot reject it totally. Besides the ever-present argument that Confucianism is just one of the traditional schools of though and that Confucianization would actually narrow Marxism down, there is also the question whether Confucianism is prepared to deal with present day situations.
Scholars like Zhao Cunsheng or Yang Ruisen argue that, even if there is no denying that there are valuable elements in Confucianism, they still need to stand the test of modern times. This is the touchstone. If someone holds fast to his Confucian believes and opposes Marxism, than he is a Mainland Confucian; if one does not oppose Marxism, although he is very close to Confucianism, then we cannot say that he is a Mainland Confucian, he is merely a Confucian scholar Zhang, The reason behind this attitude toward the Mainland Confucians is the fact that the latter advocate total replacement of Marxism with Confucianism.
Yet this foreign culture can neither securely establish the national lifeblood of the Chinese nation, nor is it capable of giving expression to the national spirit of the Chinese nation Jiang, The problem nowadays is not the morals are not respected, but that there are no more moral standards. The Chinese do not know what kind of behavior is moral behavior Jiang, All these have brought China in such a serious condition that it has never experienced during is long history. The triple legitimacy is given by the Heaven, the Earth and the people.
Democracy has a further serious problem: it lacks morality. In de democratic system, the authority and legitimacy of the government are determined by a formal will but not a substantive will of the people. They concern majority opinion with no respect for the quality of opinion. First of all, legitimacy is an organic part of the cultural system, and secondly the only kind of legitimacy that can last is the one has its roots in the Chinese culture, to which Marxism does not actually belong. Unlike Jiang, Kang Xiaoguang does not advocate in favor of a sudden replacement of Marxism with Confucianism, but proposes a gradual transition.
The Four Books and Five Classics should be made compulsory reading in the Party schools, and all officials should be examined from the Confucian classics each time they want to be promoted. Slowly but surely, Confucianism would replace Marxism and the Communist Party would evolve into a community of Confucian scholars. Chen Ming also agrees that Marxism should be replaced by Confucianism and calls for transforming Confucianism into a civil religion. He reckons that Mainland Confucians approach Confucianism as a civil religion and it is from this angle that they explain the relationship between it and society.
Confucianism can answer many of the questions China faces today. The government should give up Marxist ideology because it lacks ethnic cultural identity minzu de wenhua rentong and cannot be seen as legitimate by the Chinese people. Although many Marxist supporters also ceased to see Confucianism as a backward feudal ideology and accept its central role in the Chinese cultural system, they still insist that Confucianism should be approached from a Marxist perspective.
Marxism can and needs to learn from Confucianism, but it cannot be replaced by it. Mou Zhongjian also points out that Confucianism is an integral part of sinicized Marxism. If it wants to bring about a long period of peace and prosperity, Marxism needs to absorb Confucian wisdom regarding social management, moral education and the self-improvement, says Mou.
Responding to the critique that Marxism was an alien ideology, Fang Keli argued that although from the beginning of the 20th century, China had been exposed to numerous foreign ideologies pragmatism, neo-realism, Neo-Kantianism, Neo-Hegelianism, logical positivism, etc. None of Western systems of thought or ideologies that entered China have been able to grow roots in China, to spread and develop, unless they combined themselves with Chinese traditional thinking.
Fang, The reason behind the success of Marxism in China was that it had become sinicized, and therefore part of the Chinese culture. As I have already shown, the ability of Marxism to incorporate elements of the local culture is a recurrent theme in the official discourse. However, this in no way makes Confucianism equal to Marxism.
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True to his believes that Marxism is a strong and politically superior ideology, the only one that was capable to transform fundamentally the Chinese society, Fang Keli insists that the relation between the Marxism and Confucianism is that between mainstream ideology zhudao yishi and supporting ideology zhihuan yishi. Research and study of Confucianism cannot be divorced from Marxism and should be approached only from the Marxist point of view of class-society and class struggle, because Confucianism was born in society which was marked by class struggle.
Confucianism must be placed and studied in relation with the ideological struggle existing in contemporary Chinese society. And it not because Marxism is the core ideology of the ruling Communist party, but because it has got a scientific view of the world and it has scientific methodology. It is the practicality and scientific nature of Marxism that allows it to take the upper hand.
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The scientific nature of Marxism is on of the main arguments of the Marxist intellectuals against the replacement of Marxism with Confucianism. Marxism can employ scientific theory to critique and choose the suitable elements of Confucianism, to give Confucianism a scientific trajectory in order to make it suitable for the present society.
Chen Xueming also rejected the idea of Marxist Confucianization. If we want to put into practice socialism with Chinese characteristics, we must pay attention to the relation between the two. If we only pay attention to the Chinese tradition culture with Confucianism at its core, and we do not stick to Marxism, than our socialist practice will lose its guiding ideology. But if we stick only to the Marxist classic theory and we do not research traditional Chinese culture with Confucianism as its core, than our socialism will lose its Chinese characteristics.
Chen, The conclusion reached by most of the Marxist scholars is that it is impossible for Confucianism to regain its lost central position. Previous events proved that ignoring it was also a huge mistake, because Confucianism penetrated the Chinese consciousness and shaped each and every individual. Marxism is willing to engage in dialogue with Confucianism and learn from it, but in order for Confucianism to survive, it needs to give up its claim to supremacy and accept to be an important element of a multicultural 21st century.
While they cannot deny that, for example, the core value system of honors rong and disgraces chi proposed in this document was influenced by the rich traditional culture and once again, Confucianism is not mentioned by name , they insist that the system remains Marxist in nature because it was born out of the integration of the characteristics of the present times with the practical necessities and it embodies Marxist historical materialism and scientific development. As I have already mentioned, Confucianism is rarely if ever mentioned by name in the elite discourse.
The people are the root of a country; if the root is firm, the country is tranquil.
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