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Saturday, July 27, 2013

China- Bo Xi Lai Goes to Trial


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the trial of local party boss Bo Xi Lai for corruption may represent a turn to traditional ethics instead of state ideology.


-latter-day Confucianism may be alive and well in China.

-the trial of Bo Xi Lai is bound to be conducted as an object lesson in a new, fast-growing China where corruption is growing as quickly as the economy.

-a new the appeal to ethics as opposed to ideology may indicate a subtle but steady change in direction.

-in the face of rapid economic development and growing social inequality, the Chinese Communist Party and its wealthy leadership have avoided coming to terms with its Maoist heritage and its official, egalitarian Marxist Leninist ideology. The Neo-Maoist and allegedly corrupt provincial party boss Bo Xi Lai is the perfect target.

-though the original Communist Revolution condemned Confucianism as reactionary, it may well be that a Confucian revival or Neo-Confucianism is having an effect on government policies. A wealthy Communist leadership may find it easier to live with a non-explicit Neo-Confucianism than with the old egalitarian doctrine of Marxist-Leninism.  

QUOTE:  "The ancient Confucianism of the  Han Dynasty...with its emphasis on supreme personal and family authourity, took on new form in the the new paternal structure of "communist" China with victorious father Mao. In one sense, life in China and certainly its external politics were turned upside down, but many China scholars continued to comment on the fact that Mao's China was more like than unlike traditional autocratic Chinese governments." Solomon and Higgins, A Short History of Philosophy.


 -in imperial times, an emperor or dynasty earned or lost the right to rule by the Mandate of Heaven. The emphasis was on performance and duty. China never knew an abstraction like the European "Divine Right of Kings" according to which a dynasty or monarch claimed power and position as a right that was perpetual, sacred and irrevocable. 

 -the ideal of an efficient state bureaucracy with honest, highly trained bureaucrats has had far more continuity in Chinese history than social, political or philosophical revolution. Indeed, the idea of total revolution is Western.

-Confucianism, though conceived for a hierarchical society, emphasized relationships and honesty and duty within relationships, rather than abstractions like liberty, equality or religious ideology such as are found in the West.  In this sense Confucianism has always been a pragmatic rather than a revolutionary philosophy. It was a conservative philosophy founded in ideas and structures thought to be eternal. Chaos, collapse and rebellion were followed by restoration, not by revolution.

"New-Confucianism," or Modern Neo-Confucianism" was developed early in the early 20th century to free China from the Western idea that Chinese civilization had failed to develop politically. In New Neo-Confucianism's current revival, a stronger, newer China is seen to rest on fundamental, ancient, Confucian ideals which transcend historical stages such as Marxist-Leninism and democratization.

-For more on this, see Francis Fukuyama's excellent piece, China is looking to its dynastic past to shape its future-

RELEVANT DATES for the trial of Bo Xi Lai and Neo-Confucianism.


1066-771 BC- Western Zhou Dynasty

-the Mandate of Heaven determines that dynasties are not guaranteed power in perpetuity, but constantly earn the mandate through good government and defence. If not, the mandate is seen to have been withdrawn ans restored with the succeeding dynasty.

 551-479- Confucius, the half legendary founder of the philosophy of Confucianism, a non spiritual philosophy that sought stability through ethics and relationships with the present power structure.


221-206 BC- Qin Dynasty. Though semi-barbarous the Qin establish the imperial system that will flourish during stable periods. The Chin empire stretches from the Great Wall in the north, occupies central-eastern and coastal China with a narrower strip extending to the South Cgina Sea.

-feudalism replaced by bureaucratic government.


206 BC-250 AD (circa)- Confucianism is institutionalized as the stare philosopjhy


581-618- Sui Dynasty.

-civil service exams based on Chinese classics and a renewal of Confucianism.


960-1279 Song Dynasty.

-an early Neo-Confucianism prevails over Buddhism and Taoism.

-central bureaucracy established.

Southern Song

1127-1279- southern Song Dynasty.

1130-1200- Zhu Xi formalizes Confucian classics in a further step of Neo-Confucianism.


1898- the desperate hundred Days of Reform under K'ang Yu-Wei.


-1920s scholars develop "New Confucianism," the latest from of Neo-Confucianism. New Confucianism was an attempt to modernize Neo-Confucianism selectively using western ideas to adapt Confucianism to the modern world.


1949- Oct 1- Communist victory over the Chiang Kai-Chek regime. People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong is proclaimed with capital at Beijing.

Great Leap Forward.

1958-1959- The Great Leap Forward.

1959-1961- successive crop failures destroy gains of the Great Leap Forward, pointing to error of industrializing at the expense of agricultural development. Mao resigns as Chairman of the Communist party but still remains the most powerful individual in China.

The Cultural Revolution.

1966- Mao inaugurates the Cultural Revolution-

-the purge of Liu Shao-chi from the Communist Party for revisionism- opposing Mao's policies during the cultural revolution, a decision made by the plenum of the 9th Congress of the Communist Party.

Deng's Moderates vs. The Gang of Four.

1976- a moderate faction develops with Deng Xiaoping and Premier Chou en Lai- facing radicals from the cultural revolution led by the Gang of Four- Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, Yao Wen Yan, Wang Hongwen and Zang Jiao. Mao mediates between the two factions.

-April- Gang of Four gets Deng and his supporters purged.

Sept.- death of Mao.

Oct.- a coalition of military and political leaders purges the Gang of Four. Hua Go Feng becomes chairman.

1977- Deng is rehabilitated, becomes deputy to Chairman Hua Go Feng but is in fact the most powerful man in China. His plan is to build up the economy and strengthen ties with the west.

1978- Deng is virtually the leader of china.

1984- -many who'd been purged in the Cultural Revolution are rehabilitated.

 China After Deng.

2007-  July- China's food and drug chief is executed for taking bribes. International community worries about the safety of Chinese food and drug exports- as well as exports of lead-bearing toys and
other products.

Crackdown on Democracy Activists

2009- Dec 25- activist Liu Xiabao found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights by the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court

 2011 April - Arrest of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei for "economc crimes" sparks international campaign for his release. He is freed after more than two months' detention.

The Bo Xilai scandal

2011- Bo Xilai, party Chief of Chongqing, heads a 'Left' Neo-Maoist faction within the Communist Party; its intention is not to bring back a revolutionary left but to inject China with a dose of populism to ease the rising inequality that has come with rapid economic growth.

2012 March - Chongqing Communist Party chief and potential leadership hopeful Bo Xilai is dismissed on the eve of the party's 10-yearly leadership change, in the country's biggest political scandal for years. His wife, Gu Kailai, is placed under investigations over the death of British businessman Neil Heywood in the city in November.


The native Chinese see themselves as the heirs to ancient China.
After uprisings from Mongolia and South China, the Yuan or Mongol empire collapses and the Mongol rulers are expelled by 1364. The Ming Dynasty succeeds them, the first Ming emperor ruling from 1368 to 1398.

Xinjiang has never been easy to occupy.
But with the end of Mongol rule, the western region of Sinkiang (Xinjiang) has seceded, leaving only eastern China, its coast and center for the Ming rulers. But they expand rapidly into Manchuria.

Early contact with the West is hesitant, Tentative.
China's first sustained contact with the outside world is attempted in the expeditions of Cheng-Ho to Africa and Southeast Asia. And it is also under the Ming that the first contacts with the West take place, with the Portuguese setting up in Macao, though a nationalist foreign policy prevents European traders from making inroads. By 1600, the Ming Empire has touched the border with Tibet in the northwest. From Europe, the imperial court has welcomed the Jesuit mathematician, Matteo Ricci, who translates Euclid into Chinese. But the ominous expansion and southward movement of the Manchu people from Manchuria foreshadows an end for the Ming. By 1640, the Manchu have seized control of all of Manchuria and inner Mongolia. In 1644 the Manchu overthrow the Ming and found the Qing Dynasty.

China's expansion into Tibet and other outlying areas begins under the Manchu.
Territorial expansion resumes but over time, power at the center will weaken. South China is consolidated by 1683. For the first time, imperial China begins to approach its modern extent. Inroads are made in Tibet. Manchuria, Mongolia, Taiwan and parts of Turkestan (Sinkiang) are claimed. By the early eighteenth century, control by the Manchu Qing of Outer Mongolia, Sinkiang and Tibet is complete. By 1759, the Court of Colonial affairs administers Tibet as a protectorate (1720-1751); Eastern Turkestan militarily (1759) ; Zungaria militarily (North West, 1757); Mongolia is administered feudally; Manchuria too is handled by the Court of Colonial affairs. China is enriched by tributary states: Nepal, Burma, Korea, Siam and Assam.

China is immense but too weak to resist intrusive and aggressive European trade.
By 1793, the British already have a mission in China and the Qing, perhaps fatally, relax restrictions on foreign traders. From 1839-1842, Britain forces the opium trade on China in order to extract yet greater wealth. One consequence is the Opium Wars in which the Chinese mount violent resistance to the British.

In light of history, China's Suspicion of the Outside world is understandable

Britain forces its way, planting trading posts deeper into the Chinese hinterland, extracting more concessions. Soon, France, Germany and Russia follow suit. Between 1850 and 1870, Chinese rebellions break out. At the end of the century, Chinese nationalism builds steam and wars are fought against the French and the Japanese. Great Britain and the United States adopt the 'Open Door' policy by which all nations are allowed equal access to trade within China. But this soon degenerates into a free-for-all as foreign nations decide instead to carve out their own fiefdoms. China rebels with yet greater force in the Boxer Rebellion. In 1911, the Qing Dynasty, having ruled China for over three centuries, is now seen as a conduit of foreign imperialism and is overthrown by the forces of Sun Yat Sen.


Fear of Internal Dissension and Fragmentation Are Still Recent in Chinese History

In 1912, the last of the Ming Emperors abdicates. As warlords rise up to consolidate their own domains, Sun Yat Sen resigns. Tyranny threatens with the rule of the Republic of China's first president, Yuan Shi'kai. But things take a new course as Japan occupies Shantung, entering World War One on the aside of the Axis in 1914. Yuan dies and China disintegrates into warlord states.

China was not taken Seriously by the rest of the World.

The war ends, confirming Japanese possession of Shantung at the Treaty of Versailles. In 1921-22, China protests and Chinese possession of Shantung is confirmed along with China's territorial integrity. But the west's Open Door trade policy is reaffirmed. The Communist Party is founded in 1921. Sun Yat Sen's Kuomintang is allied with the USSR and the Communists and consolidates the south along with the northern warlords and the capital at Peking. Chiang Kai-Shek consolidates gains of the the Kuomintang, turning the party against the Communists. Throughout the 1930s, a civil war is fought between Chiang Kai Shek's Nationalists and Mao Ze Dong''s Communist Party.

Communism became a Means of Unifying the Country.

With World War Two, Japan, allied again with the Axis, invades China and occupies Manchuria. Japanese atrocities committed against Chinese civilians will cause lasting bitterness in China. With the defeat of Japan in 1945, the civil war resumes with Mao's Communists gaining control of Manchuria in 1948. But Chiang Kai-Shek's nationalists seem to be gaining elsewhere, with US support. Nationalist repression, corruption and incompetence brings more Chinese over to the Communists who are triumphant in 1949, leaving the party in control of the government and its chairman, Mao, the effective leader. Chiang Kai-Shek and his nationalists retreat to the island of Taiwan.

China Reasserts its of Sphere of Influence.

In 1950, Communist China re-occupies Tibet and then backs North Korea in its war against UN-backed South Korea. With the defeat of North Korea in 1953, China nevertheless emerges as a regional diplomatic power. Mao forges ahead with collectivization and the development of industry and agriculture. In 1955, the nationalists on Taiwan reaffirm their right to rule China. The US promises to protect Taiwan from Chinese retaliation. In Russia, meanwhile, Krushchev's moderate policy of De-Stalinization causes a deep rift with China which remains ideologically radical.

The First of Several Attempts at Economic Modernization with a high cost.

In the late 1950s, China's 'Great Leap Forward' industrial policy throws agriculture into chaos with successive crop-failures and man-made famine. Tensions increase with the USSR in the early 1960s as China tests its first Atomic Bomb.

The Cultural Revolution is yet another experiment in rapid change at high cost.

By the late 1960s, Mao has given his backing to the Cultural Revolution, an ultra-left students' revolt against all that is deemed urban, intellectual, burueaucratic. It emphasizes the countryside, physical labour and ideological fanaticism at the expense of most of the country's intelligentsia and many innocent people who are murdered, purged or punished.

China takes another sharp turn; this time Reaching out to the West.

By 1970, however, China has begun to turn outward with a more moderate diplomatic policy. Nixon's offer of detente is welcomed and a very gradual warming between the two nations begins. By 1973, however, the Culture Revolution itself is turning against cultural contacts with the West. The Movement is brought to an end by its own excesses.

The Moderation of Deng Zao-Ping Anticipates the New China.

Deng Zao-Ping represents a new moderate movement against the Gang of Four, the powers close to Mao who who direct the Cultural revolution. In the mid-1970s- a shift away from agriculture and ultra-leftism comes with the rise to influence of Deng. In 1976, the Gang of Four purges Deng. With the death of Mao, a group of military and political leaders purges the Gang of Four and rehabilitates Deng. Hua Go Feng becomes Chairman while Deng retains the actual power. By 1979, Deng has restored full diplomatic relations with the United States and plans China's gradual integration with the outside world through trade. In 1980, Deng creates Special Economic Zones in several coastal cities to encourage foreign trade and investment.

The Communist Political system remains Ironclad while China undertakes State capitalism.

Throughout the 1980s, the party allows limited capitalism and profit taking, while retaining a firm grip on power and denying fundamental rights to citizens, political dissidents and ethnic minorities. The party nevertheless begins to lose its power as a popular focrce. Decollectivization and rehabilitation of those pourged under the cultural revolution continues. Economic growth creates an unacknowledged class system with a new stratum of wealthy, urban property owners and the very poorest still living in the country on the brink of starvation.

At Tianamen, China Collides politically with the Modern World.

Reformist leaders are replaced to the tune of continual student protests for more democracy. The tension culminates in 1989 with the slaughter of thousands of democracy protesters at Tianamen Square. Chairman Zhou is replaced with Jiang Zemin who represses all remaining opposition. International punitive sanctions imposed on China have little effect and by 1990 they are relaxed. Tianamen becomes the watershed after which China abandons political reform in favour of break-neck economic progress.

China sees Rapid Economic Progress as the cure for its Political Ills.

The government brings in a state-controlled market economy. In 1996, perhaps with largely Muslim Xinjiang in mind, China holds talks with Russia and Central Asian nations about mutual cooperation in matters of religion and terrorism. In 1997 Deng dies and is succeeded by Jiang Zemin.

China Begins to Secure itself against Muslim Central Asia and the prospect of Islamic radicalism within its own frontiers

In 2001, agreements involving trade, terrorism and security with China and Central Asia are enshrined in the Shanghai Cooperation Association. In 2003, Hu Jintao replaces Jiang Zemin. In 2005, China is concerned once again with troubles in its sphere of influence, passing a law allowing the use of force if Taiwan attempts to assert its independence.

China Works again to secure its Sphere of Influence.

The China-Tibet railway opens in 2006 with the aim of transplanting more Han settlers into Tibet and binding the putatively autonomous region closer to China. On the other hand, China and Japan attempt reconciliation over Japan's atrocities in Manchuria in Wolrd War Two. Trade with Africa is increased despite international outcry at China's support for regimes with records of severe human rights abuses, such as Sudan's repression in Darfur.

The Beiing Olympics Shine the Spotlight on China.

In 2008, China's record of human rights abuse and repression in Tibet haunts the nation during the run-up to the Beijing Olympic games. The world watches as China crushes demonstrations in Tibet commemorating China's first crackdown in 1950.


The historic Center of Chinese Power develops in the Northeast, where it remains today.

In the second and third millennia BC, the semi-legendary Xia Dynasty develops in northeast China, the classical center of most Chinese political power to come. The Shang Dynasty rules in the second millennium BC. A uniform culture appears along with an aristocracy and bureaucracy. The 'center' in the northeast first becomes aware of the difficulty of absorbing and ruling the ethnically heterogenous cultures of the south and west.

Development of a Unique Chinese Culture.

The first millennium sees the development of a civilization with an economy, laws and money under the Western and then the Eastern Zhou dynasties. Confucius expounds his philosophy of practical living, based on social and familial relationships. Lao Tzu founds Taoism. In the fifth century BC, the Zhou dynasty collapses into four warring states, turning the northeastern center into a patchwork. But the foundations of an enduring Chinese culture and philosophy have been laid.

And the Center is Always revitalized from the Margins.

In the third century BC, the political strife is resolved by the Qin Dynasty, based just to the west. The Qin consolidate Chinese culture, replace feudalism with bureaucracy and build the Great Wall to the north, to keep out the barbarians. The Han Dynasty and its empire, which follows, becomes equivalent and contemporary to the Roman Empire in the West.

China Extends its reach Northwestward into Central Asia.

The Han extend their rule westward, north of Tibet which remains too rugged to occupy. A long arm of land connects the Chinese empire in the east to a western annex in the Tarim Basin in central Asia, the area of modern Xinjiang.

Maintaining Control from the Center will Always be a Problem.

Inevitably, in the third century AD, after surviving five hundred years, the Han empire collapses into warring kingdoms. The Chin Dynasty emerges but remains fragile. Authority from the center is weak. It collapses into northern and southern empires. China is re-unified under the Sui. Chinese culture spreads, along with Buddhism and Taoism.

The Tang and Sung Dynasties: the Zenith of Classical China; Consolidation of the administration and ingenuity for which China will be known.

Under the Tang Dynasty, classical China reaches her apogee with the invention of printing, gunpowder and paper money. Withdrawal from outer regions leads to consolidation of the center although the bond with western, Central Asian China is strengthened with the destruction of the Uighur empire of the Xinjiang region. But by the tenth century, power at the center has disintegrated once again, this time into ten kingdoms. The Sung Dynasty of the tenth to thirteenth centuries sees the strengthening and consolidation of Chinese culture. Confucianism is codified. The decay of the northern Sung gives way to the Southern Sung Empire.

Even the Mongols Adopt Chinese Culture.

But in the twelfth century, Mongols invade from the west, taking Chna by 1234. The Mongol Yuan Dynasty of Gengis Khan and his successor Kublai Khan rule the greatest land empire the world has ever seen, stretching from Mongolia and China to Mesopotamia. The Yuan host the Italian traveler and explorer Marco Polo, establishing the first hint of trade and cultural relations with the West.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: From the Columbia Encyclopedia's entry on China: "China's history is generally viewed as a continuous development with certain repetitive tendencies as viewed in the following general pattern: the area under political control tends to expand from the E Huang He and Yangtzi basins, the heart of Chinese culture, and then. under outside military pressure, to shrink back. Conquering barbarians from the north and the west supplant native dynasties, take over Chinese culture, lose their vigour and are expelled in a surge of national feeling. Following a disordered and anarchic period, a new dynasty may arise. Its predecessor, by engaging in excessive warfare, tolerating corruption and being unable tp keep up public works, had forfeited the right to rule- in the traditional view, the dynasty as lost "the Mandate of Heaven." The administrators change, central authority is re-established, public works constructed, taxation modified and equalized, and land redistributed. After a prosperous period, disintegration reappears, inviting barbarian intervention or native revolt." -Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition, 1993
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