Chinese decision-making in response to


Political Transformations and Chinese Foreign Policy



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2.2. Political Transformations and Chinese Foreign Policy
Communist ideology, i.e., Marxism-Leninism, has had significant influence on contemporary Chinese politics. Arguably, the most far-reaching impact is the party-state structure that still firmly controls the society, although, in some areas, there are sporadic flashes of change (e.g., the so-called grassroots democracy that allows local-level primary elections).
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In addition to the ideology from the outside, Chinese leaders have developed their own. Mao Zedong Thought, or Maoism, adds elements that fit the Chinese context and, therefore, are recognized with a status equivalent to that of
Marxism-Leninism.
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Apparently, in the aftermath of Mao’s death and the disastrous Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping became the de facto second predominant leader in China, although he never held any formal top leadership titles such as head of state or head of government. Deng and his followers took a sharp turn by downgrading Mao’s personality cult (geren chongbai) and ideological mass campaigns and adopted a flexible
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Xiang, Lanxin (April 16, 2006) Why Washington Can’t Speak Chinese Washington Post. Lanxin
Xiang is director of the China Center at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Grassroots democracy has evolved in China fora decade or so. Most of such local primary elections occur in village committee elections and the elections for the delegates to the local People’s Congress (Shi, ab. These phenomena certainly are encouraging signs that suggest China will move toward a democratic country. In the meantime, a sober second look reveals that the fundamental political structure remains the same, i.e., the CCP still controls many aspects of the society supported by a more open and free economy. In addition, even the democratic elections are more or less under heavy influence of the CCP. The CCP seems to prefer the term Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism in nearly all of its foreign- language publications except for use in a pejorative sense.
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approach with a blend of significant ingredients – pragmatism, nationalism, bureaucratic authoritarianism and Chinese traditions. The blend of these isms, along with traditions, has fundamentally transformed the social and political system as well as policy-making in China. Pragmatism in Deng’s policy freed people’s minds so that Chinese economy and development could expand. Deng Xiaoping Theory highlights the idea of building a socialist society with Chinese characteristics (Deng, 1993). Deng’s most frequently quoted remark about his pragmatism is It doesn’t matter if it is a black or white cat as long as it can catch rats (Zhao, 2004: 72). Moreover, Deng’s pragmatism went beyond the economic sphere. Chinese foreign policy under his leadership also turned pragmatic and flexible (Zhao, 2004). In the spirit of pragmatism, China has further opened its domestic market to foreign competition and embraced international norms and institutions.
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Such fundamental transformation did not occur randomly instead, it was a well-thought out strategy to maintain the CCP legitimacy in China (Hamrin and Zhao,
1995; Zhao, 2004). While still following the pragmatic principle after Deng’s death, it is notable that both Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao have tried to reemphasize dangxing, or the CCP values, in their respective ideological campaigns centering on their own theories or thoughts.
Jiang Zemin raised the theory of the Three Represents at the 16
th
CPC National Congress, which was enshrined in the newly amended Constitution as one of the ruling For instance, since December 2001, China has been a formal member of the World Trade Organization WTO.
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theories.
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Again, these campaigns were meant to serve the purpose of strengthening the
Party’s legitimacy in an era in which socialism and communism are no longer something in which many people truly believe. Jiang’s new ideas, however, have not affected the pragmatic policy and China’s rapid growth into an increasingly capitalist society with more prosperity (at least, in urban areas. Since the late sands, Chinese nationalism has arisen and obtained support from all levels, from the government to mainstream intellectuals and the general public, amid declining faith in the practice of communism. Thus, causing the legitimacy of the CCP to face a looming crisis, although the state still upholds Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as the official ideology (Hamrin and Zhao, 1995; Zhao, 2004; Chen, 2005). To the party-state, nationalism has turned out to bean effective instrument of unity by connecting the party-state and the masses, and, in particular, strengthening the
CCP leadership in China by (1) linking the communist regime with Chinese traditions and history as afresh driving force to renew the CCP’s legitimacy (2) explicitly resisting adopting Western-style democratic institutions to maintain political stability) defending China’s national interests (e.g., accession to the WTO) and territorial integrity
(e.g., Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang); and (4) promoting China’s national image (e.g., hosting the Olympic Games) and national unity among the Han and other ethnic minorities (Zhao, 2004). To intellectuals and the general public, given the vivid memory The Three Represents refer to the theory that the Party must always represent the requirements of the development of China’s advanced productive forces, the orientation of the development of China’s advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people in China
(Jiang Zemin’s speech at the 16
th
CPC National Congress) For instance, on September 16, 2004, Hu Jintao in a nationwide televised speech said, History indicates that indiscriminately copying Western political systems is a blind alley for China He argued that the single-party state would be capable of fighting power abuse and corruption by policing the CCP itself better.
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of invasions and humiliation since the latter half of the 19
th century by the Western powers (including Japan, nationalism and patriotism are sentiments that facilitate resistance toward the pressure from the outside (mainly the West) for any involuntary change. Many Chinese, regardless of their status as political elites or ordinary citizens, are loathe to be forced to change (e.g., adopting any kind of reform they are only willing to change on their own terms.
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This is one of the main reasons why many Chinese people still recognize Mao as a national hero and one of the greatest leaders not necessarily because they truly believe his thought and doctrine but mainly because it was Mao who led China to stand up against those “yang guizi,” or foreign devils.”
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Chinese nationalism and patriotism have proven to be particularly effective instruments for the government in situations of confrontation and hostility against foreign countries. For example, in Taiwan Strait IV (1995-1996), many nationalists – not Kuomintang (KMT), or the Nationalists in the mainland openly proposed to take back Taiwan by whatever means, even with the use of force, which would run the risk of having a direct military confrontation with Taiwan and the US.
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Two recent cases in point include the large-scale protests in Beijing and Chengdu against the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia in May 1999 and similar large-scale anti-Japanese Among many Chinese scholars, there seems to be a deep-rooted suspicion of the Western conspiracy that is designed to breakup China and stall its economic development (e.g., Shi Zhong, 1994; Wang Jisi, 1995). The term “yang guizi,” or foreign devils has derogatory connotation and was used to refer to foreigners. The Kuomintang (KMT) is used interchangeably with the Guomindang (GMD), which is more frequently used by scholars from the mainland. The most eye-catching example that verbalizes the growing nationalism in the public is the series of headline-making bestsellers, including The China that Can Say No (Song, Zhang and Qiao, 1996), The

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