Cadre Country: How China became the Chinese Communist Party

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1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Online via Zoom
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About this event

Since the founding of the Communist Party in China just over a century ago there is much the country has achieved but considerable dispute over who did all the heavy lifting, who should get the credit, and who in fact gets the spoils. 

Professor John Fitzgerald will talk about his recent book Cadre Country, which places the spotlight on the nation’s 40 million cadres - the managers and government officials employed by the ruling Communist Party to protect its great enterprise - and shows they constitute a powerful interest group that associates its interests with those of the country.

They do this by making party history national history, making party ideology national ideology, and associating patriotism with loyalty to the party. The book pays particular attention to the history, ideology and language of the Communist Party to show how the party, under Xi Jinping, is reversing the achievements of the Reform Era by shackling a liberalised society and a marketized economy and progressively swallowing up key agencies of state. As the party becomes the state, its cadres become in effect China’s political nation.

About the speaker

John Fitzgerald is an historian of China and the Chinese diaspora. He headed the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy at Swinburne University after serving five years as China Representative of The Ford Foundation in Beijing (2008-13). From 2015 to 2017 he served as President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His recent books include Cadre Country:  How China became the Chinese Communist Party (2022), Taking the Low Road: China’s Influence in Australia’s States and Territories (edited, 2022), and Chinese Diaspora Charity and the Cantonese Pacific, 1850–1949 (edited with Hon-ming Yip, 2020).

Earlier books include Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia (2007), awarded the Ernest Scott Prize of the Australian Historical Association, and Awakening China: Politics, Culture and Class in the Nationalist Revolution (1997), awarded the Joseph Levenson Prize of the US Association for Asian Studies.  He is a graduate of the University of Sydney (BA 1976), Nanjing University (Language Cert 1977) and ANU (PhD 1983), and studied at UW Madison as a Fulbright post-doctoral fellow (1988).



This online seminar will take place online via Zoom.

  • Chair: Professor Steve Tsang, Director, SOAS China Institute
  • Organiser: SOAS China Institute
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