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China's Legitimacy Crisis

Republic without Plebiscite

Lanxin Xiang

Despite its achievements in economic growth, the People’s Republic of China is facing its most serious legitimacy crisis since its founding in 1949. Its political order is, however, cracking at the seams. But the roots of this crisis are generally misunderstood in the west because the predominant conceptual framework and terminology have lost validity in explaining China. The most misleading assumption is that political problems in China would come from its lack of “democratic legitimacy,” for this interpretation cannot explain why the crisis starts to manifest itself during China’s most sustained period of economic boom in history. It is the contention of this book that the main source of China’s legitimacy crisis comes from elsewhere: a clash between “Confucian legitimacy,” or the traditional “mandate of heaven,” and the alien feature of the Communist ruling machine. This book, with its focus on the question of legitimacy, provides a cogent interpretation. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 240Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-4472-6 • Hardback • May 2017 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4985-4473-3 • eBook • May 2017 • $94.99 • (£65.00) (coming soon)
Lanxin Xiang is professor of international history and politics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.
Introduction: Legitimacy: East and West
Chapter 1: Legitimacy and State
Chapter 2: Legitimacy of Oriental Despotism
Chapter 3: Fictional Legitimacy
Chapter 4: Legitimacy as Presentation
Chapter 5: Deeds Legitimacy: Economy
Chapter 6: Externalizing the Mandate of Heaven
Conclusion: Restarting Cultural Dialogue
Lanxin Xiang’s provides a sustained, nuanced, and courageous attempt to restore Chinese political philosophy to its rightful status and to allow it to speak on its own terms. In a tour de force grounded in a profound appreciation of Chinese natural cosmology, Xiang problematizes a post-Enlightenment political ‘theology’ that has come to embrace its own grand, teleological-driven narrative as the ‘one true’ vision of political legitimacy to the exclusion of all others. Xiang weighs valiantly against one more condescending universalism that continues to theorize China according to assumptions not its own, derived from a narrative not its own, and in so doing, to preclude from discussion what China might legitimately claim to be its own critical alternatives to now much-beleaguered Eurocentric forms of democracy.
Roger T. Ames, Peking University