The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics: A New Interpretation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics

A New Interpretation, 1st Edition

By Lanxin Xiang


158 pages

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Hardback: 9780367339715
pub: 2019-09-05
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pub: 2019-09-03
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Xiang explains the nature and depth of the legitimacy crisis facing the government of China, and why it is so frequently misunderstood in the West.

Arguing that it is more helpful to understand the quest for legitimacy in China as an eternally dynamic process, rather than to seek resolutions in constitutionalism, Xiang examines the understanding of legitimacy in Chinese political philosophy. He posits that the current crisis is a consequence of the incompatibility of Confucian Republicanism and Soviet-inspired Bolshevism. The discourse on Chinese political reform tends to polarize, between total westernization on the one hand, or the rejection of western influence in all forms on the other. Xiang points to a third solution - meeting western democratic theories halfway, avoiding another round of violent revolution.

This book provides valuable insights for scholars and students of China’s politics and political history.


‘In his fascinating new book The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics, Xiang shifts the spotlight from the crisis of rule in the West to the crisis of rule in China…Xiang’s contribution lies in challenging the conventional Western view that China faces the alternatives of integrating with the West, trying to destroy it, or succumbing to domestic violence and chaos…The most interesting part of the book examines how the West has consistently disparaged the Chinese achievement.’ - Robert Skidelsky, a member of the British House of Lords, is Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University.

'In a vivid passage, he compares Beijing’s political scene to the last days of the Russian tsars, “with charlatans and sycophants running amuck”. Still, his book, “The Quest for Legitimacy in Chinese Politics, A New Interpretation”, is an invaluable guide to the feelings of hurt and injustice that consume those same ruling classes now.' - Appeared in The Economist on 18 Dec 2019

Table of Contents

Introduction: Legitimacy:East and West

Chapter One: Legitimacy and State

Chapter Two: Legitimacy and Oriental Despotism

Chapter Three: Fictional Legitimacy

Chapter Four: Presentation and Representation: A Republican Legitimacy

Chapter Five: Deeds Legitimacy: Economy

Chapter Six: Externalizing the Mandate of Heaven

Concluding Remarks: Restarting Cultural Dialogue


About the Author

Lanxin Xiang is Professor of International History and Politics at The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. He is also the former Henry Kissinger Chair at the Library of Congress.

About the Series

Routledge Studies on Asia in the World

Routledge Studies on Asia in the World will be an authoritative source of knowledge on Asia studying a variety of cultural, economic, environmental, legal, political, religious, security and social questions, addressed from an Asian perspective. We aim to foster a deeper understanding of the domestic and regional complexities which accompany the dynamic shifts in the global economic, political and security landscape towards Asia and their repercussions for the world at large. We’re looking for scholars and practitioners – Asian and Western alike – from various social science disciplines and fields to engage in testing existing models which explain such dramatic transformation and to formulate new theories that can accommodate the specific political, cultural and developmental context of Asia’s diverse societies. We welcome both monographs and collective volumes which explore the new roles, rights and responsibilities of Asian nations in shaping today’s interconnected and globalized world in their own right.

We are particularly interested in books that demonstrate interdisciplinary and holistic thinking; rigorous and creative research; cross-fertilization of Western and Asian thought; and/or a grass-roots approach.

While we are open to any exciting ideas for edited, single or co-authored work, we are currently inviting book proposals which address the following areas:

    • Global Governance in Asia
    • Dispute Resolution in Asia
    • Asia and International Peacekeeping
    • Human Rights in Asia
    • SustainableDevelopment Goals in Asia
    • Religion in Asia

If you have an idea for a new book in Routledge Studies on Asia in the World, please send a written proposal to the Editor in Chief:

Matthias Vanhullebusch [email protected]

Series Editors:

Dr. Matthias Vanhullebusch – Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Prof. Dr. Ji Weidong– Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Editorial Board:

Prof. Dr. Vinod K. Aggarwal – University of California, Berkeley

Prof. Dr. Jing Men – College of Europe

Prof. Dr. Yaqing Qin– China Foreign Affairs University

Prof. Dr. Javaid Rehman – Brunel University

Prof. Dr. Gurharpal Singh – School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Dr. R. Sudarshan – Jindal Global University

Prof. Dr. Nira Wickramasinghe – Leiden University

Prof. Dr. Lanxin Xiang – Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Prof. Dr. Simon Young – Hong Kong University 

Professor Danny Quah - National University of Singapore


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies