Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Nationalism and prospects for political change in China

Mario Esteban worked on Chine for three years, and complete his Ph.D. thesis a year ago, about the mechanisms the Chinese Communist Party chose to hold the control of the emerging superpower, specially after the Tiannanmen Crisis.

His argument is in some way well constructed. He argues that Chinese elites chose to woe nationalism to focus the attention on the path of incredible growth and development of the last years. Racial arguments and cultural superiority compound the bulk of the nationalist discourse. But, in general, it is a moderated nationalist ideology, investors-friendly and easy-to-hear for the emerging middle class in the coast.

At the same time, a reivindicative, aggressive nationalist discourse emerged from the factions in the CCP who are outside the technocratic government (he clearly distinguished between the regime and the goverment, despite the fact that in authoritarian environments, this kind of distinction is not so obvious for the citizens). In any case, the second kind of nationalism is somehow imperalistic, and it is constructed against the 'other' (Japan and EEUU, basically). It does let to compare goverment actual performance with an ideal defense of the interest of China, and let to formulate criticisms 'inside the system'.

Because, despite the fact that individual criticism is tolerated and attended in China, any form of organization to articulate criticism is condemned and repressed. But, in general, the author seems to deal with China as if the country was a Western one, with all kind of Human rights protections.

The big argument is good, but the author focuses his attention in the apparent stable legitimacy of the regime, when the real question is if the Chinese goverment, and regime, would survive to an economic crisis that has to occur in a near future.

Modern Political Science says us that the survival of authoritarian regimes is severely damaged when things go down (Przeworski and Limongi), and, also, that the apparent different discourses in the nationalist topic seem merely argumentative forms of the real cleavage: the growing differences, and inequality, between the rural world and a capitalist, dinamic pole of development in the coast.

The paper can be found here...


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