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.
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
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.
‘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