What Does China Think?

What Does China Think?

Mark Leonard

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 1586484842

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


We know everything and nothing about China. We know that China is changing so fast that the maps in Shanghai need to be redrawn every two weeks. We know that China has brought 300 million people from agricultural backwardness into modernity in just thirty years, and that its impact on the global economy is growing at unprecedented speed. We have an image of China as a dictatorship; a nationalist empire that threatens its neighbors and global peace.

But how many people know about the debates raging within China? What do we really know about the kind of society China wants to become? What ideas are motivating its citizens? We can name America's neo-cons and the religious right, but cannot name Chinese writers, thinkers, or journalists—what is the future they dream of for their country, or for the world? Because China's rise— like the fall of Rome or the British Raj—will echo down generations to come, these are the questions we increasingly need to ask. Mark Leonard asks us to forget everything we thought we knew about China and start again. He introduces us to the thinkers who are shaping China's wide open future and opens up a hidden world of intellectual debate that is driving a new Chinese revolution and changing the face of the world.

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in a journey to the West, regarding political and economic liberalism as a seamless whole, one that would benefit all Chinese people. Their enemies were the ‘conservatives’ who supported the Maoist status quo. After the bloodshed the reformers split into two camps: a ‘New Right’, led by thinkers like Zhang Weiying, who see free markets as the most important goal and are willing to make an accommodation with political authoritarianism; and a ‘New Left’, about whom we will hear more later, led by

Zhang Weiying’s world upside down. The debate of the 1980s between conservatives and reformers has been won by reformers. The decision to open up and reform seems irreversible. However, a new debate has opened up in its place: what kind of reforms should China pursue? Who will benefit from them? How can the profits of growth be shared? Websites, newspapers and TV stations no longer debate how to dismantle the state. Their big question is about how to tame the market. Zhang Weiying can feel his

authorities seem willing to experiment with all kinds of political innovations. In Pingchang, they have been willing to introduce greater democracy within the party. In Chongqing, they have given up a certain amount of judicial power and allowed public voices to be heard. In Zeguo, they have introduced a form of government by focus group. The main criterion guiding political reform seems to be that it must not threaten the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. You could call it ‘Anything but

Journal of Contemporary China, 10 (26) (2001), 33 – 44 p. 85 the comprehensive power Yan Xuetong, ‘The Rise of China in Chinese Eyes’, Journal of Contemporary China, 10 (26) (2001), 33 – 44 p. 87 Deng Xiaoping meant This was later developed into the twenty-four character strategy: ‘Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.’ p. 89 China will not take Zheng Bijian,

become a surrogate for politics – if only because it is more personal, aggressive and emotive than anything that formal politics can muster. Intellectuals can articulate the concerns of broader social forces – workers, farmers, entrepreneurs – and push for change in their name. The Chinese like to argue about whether it is the intellectuals that influence decision-makers, or whether groups of decision-makers use pet intellectuals as informal mouthpieces to advance their own views. Either way, the

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