Xi Jinping’s Counter-Reformation: The Reassertion of Ideological Governance in Contemporary China

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5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Virtual Event

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Timothy Cheek (University of British Columbia)

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Xi Jinping is the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao. The media is full of his “mass line campaigns,” the anti-corruption campaign, his much-touted “Chinese 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 governance: Rectification. The traditions of Party “statecraft” dating back to the Yan’an in the 1940s and across the Mao period draw on long-standing Chinese political norms and help us see how the Party leadership today interprets the challenges it faces today. This is a form of ideological governance in which only the Party can save China, and only rectification under one supreme leader can save the Party. This is a reaction to the reformation of politics and society in China in the two decades after Tiananmen in 1989. It is Xi Jinping’s Counter-Reformation.


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Xi Jinping’s Counter-Reformation: The Reassertion of Ideological Governance in Contemporary China

About the speaker

Timothy Cheek is Director of the Institute of Asian Research and Louis Cha Chair Professor of 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. 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, Voices from the Chinese Century: Public Intellectual Debate from Contemporary China (2020), with David Ownby and Joshua Fogel, 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, particularly on new approaches to Party history.


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. After registering, a separate Zoom registration link will be emailed to you closer to the date of the webinar. Online Registration

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Chair: Professor Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

Contact email: sci@soas.ac.uk