Xi Jinping is the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao. We hear about his “mass line campaign,” the anti-corruption campaign, his much-touted “China Dream,” and China’s assertive actions in the region, as well as conflicting news about his Belt and Road policy across Asia and into Africa. How can we make sense of what Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party are doing? This talk offers perspectives from the history of the Party and its notable style of rule: Rectification. The traditions of Party “state-craft” dating back to the Yan’an in the 1940s and across the Mao period help us see how the Party leadership today interprets the “middle income trap” for a developing nation: only the Party can save China, and only rectification under one supreme leader can save the Party. Xi Jinping embraces this calling.
Timothy Cheek is Director of the Institute of Asian Research and Professor and Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and Department of History at the University of British Columbia. His research, teaching and translating focus on the recent history of China, especially the Chinese Communist Party and intellectual debate in China. He has contributed to scholarly and public conversations on the nature of CCP rule, including “Making China Marxist Again” in Dissent (October 2018). His books include The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History (2015), Living with Reform: China Since 1989 (2006), Mao Zedong and China’s Revolutions (2002) and Propaganda and Culture in Mao’s China (1997), as well as edited volumes, Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949, Vol. VIII (2015) with Stuart R. Schram, The Cambridge Critical Introduction to Mao (2010), and New Perspectives on State Socialism in China (1997), with Tony Saich. In recent years Cheek has been working with some Chinese intellectuals to explore avenues of collaborative research and translation. In recent years Cheek has been working with some Chinese intellectuals to explore avenues of collaborative research and translation.
This lecture is part of the Liu Institute's 2018-19 Legitimacy and Propaganda in Contemporary Asia speaker series.