Interview

by Malcolm Riddell

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Five Themes that Point to Where the Chinese Communist Party & China are Heading
Five Themes that Point to Where the Chinese Communist Party & China are Heading
No items found.

July 1, 2021

As the Chinese Communist Party begins its second century, it’s useful to identify enduring patterns that might aid us in understanding China today and the directions it might be heading.

  • To that end, I interviewed Tony Saich of Harvard Kennedy School.

Tony has just published From Rebel to Ruler: One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • One reviewer wrote: In this, ‘magisterial account of the hundred-year history of the Chinese Communist Party, Tony Saich identifies themes extending from the genesis of the CCP in the early 1920s all the way through the rule of Xi Jinping over a rising global superpower today.’

And it was these themes that I talked with Tony about. He identified five that are especially useful:

  1. ‘Establishing a world order to fit China’s needs’
  2. ‘Ambivalence toward foreigners’
  3. ‘Ambivalence toward the private sector’
  4. ‘Putting the collective over the individual’
  5. ‘Control of society, the economy, and governmental practices.’

About the world order, Tony pointed out:

  • ‘Just think of Deng’s key phrase that we keep going back to, about “hiding your strength and biding your time.” ’
  • ‘Hiding your strength for what purpose and what are you biding your time for?’
  • ‘Well, it was until China could become powerful enough to be able to reassert its authority on the global stage, which is what Xi Jinping has picked up.’
  • Keep that in mind the next time a pundit tells you how far Mr. Xi’s objectives differ from Mr. Deng’s.

Concerning ambivalence toward foreigners, he gave cautions, based on CCP history, for foreign businesses in China:

  • ‘When the party was founded in 1921, it was going to get rid of the foreigners who were working in China and investing in China.’
  • ‘And that's pretty much what it did after 1949. It got the foreigners out of China.’

‘China now needs global engagement to meet its own objectives.’

  • ‘That means that foreigners can be used when they're beneficial to help China meet its objectives, but they can easily be removed or criticized when they do not.’
  • ‘We see, if you run afoul of Chinese policy, you will be hammered.’
  • ‘So yes, China wants the foreigners, but it only wants the foreigners entirely on its own terms.’

‘Where China has a need, it will let the foreign enterprises come. It will let them grow. It'll let them invest.’

  • ‘At the same time, it tries to set up its own competitive businesses to rival them.’
  • ‘And if it feels it can compete, slowly but surely, it will squeeze down the space that the foreign businesses have to operate within China.’

Tony is the director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • He has a unique perspective gained from his early on-the-ground experience living in China in the 1970s during the Cultural Revolution years.
  • As he says: “Forty-five years ago, when I was a student in the country, I could not have imagined the changes that China has experienced. If anyone had dared to suggest that it would be possible to pull China out of the morass of the Cultural Revolution, I would have told them that the idea was crazy.”

I have known Tony since my time as an Asia Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School many years ago.

  • He has often been a speaker at my CHINARoundtable, a member community that brings together top China experts for discussions with leaders from business and institutional investment.

In fact, his was a speaker at the first CHINARoundtable in 2012.

CHINARoundtable 2012

In pre-pandemic days, the CHINARoundtable would meet about once a month at the Harvard Club of New York.

  • Now, we are preparing to launch the ‘CHINARoundtable Virtual.’
  • By removing the limits of time and space, we will be able to include experts and participants from around the world.

Below you find more of Tony’s explanations of the five themes from the history of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • You can also watch his interview and read the full transcript which will posted soon on our new CHINADebate website.

And be sure to check out From Rebel to Ruler. I wholeheartedly agree with the reviewer who wrote:

  • ‘While questions about what China is and is becoming will continue to perplex, readers searching for a road map toward sound answers would be well advised to begin with From Rebel to Ruler. A better primer on Chinese elite politics and political history cannot be found.’
more
Interview

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Interview

Tony Saich
Professor, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

From Rebel to Ruler: One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party by Tony Saich

‘In our discussions, you've identified five themes that have been more or less consistent throughout the history of the party but have oscillated between different points on a continuum:’
7/1/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Interview

Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'

Interview: Prestowitz

0

'Forget about China': Clyde Prestowitz

Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'
6/13/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Interview

Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'

Interview: Prestowitz

1

1 | The Interview: Clyde Prestowitz

‘I have spent a lot of time negotiating with countries around the world, but particularly with China, Japan, and Korea, in pursuit of American attempts, to persuade them to change their policies and change their objectives, and the way that they pursue building their economies. And I have come to the conclusion that they're not going to change.'
Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'
6/13/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Interview

Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'

Interview: Prestowitz

2

2 | 'Shame on You'

‘The bottom line really is that if you're a major American company, and you're doing a lot of business in China, effectively, you are contributing to the torture of the weavers, to the crackdown in Hong Kong, to the threat to Taiwan.’
Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'
6/13/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Interview

Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'

Interview: Prestowitz

3

3 | 'Made in America'

‘President Biden made the statement in a speech: “Buy American. Make it in America.” Why can't we make wind turbines in Pittsburgh, as well as in Beijing?’
Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'
6/13/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Interview

Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'

Interview: Prestowitz

4

4 | The Chinese System

'Now, how does The China Daily get into The Washington Post? It gets there because the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party is funding that. And so it's a whole of society attack.
Clyde Prestowitz | Founder and President of the Economic Strategy Institute & author of 'The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership'
6/13/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

Interview

Roger Garside | former British diplomat in Beijing, development banker, & capital market development advisor, and author of 'Coming Alive: China After Mao' and a new book 'China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom.'

'Regime change in China is not only possible, it is imperative.'

‘We must make regime change in China the highest goal of our strategy towards that country.’ ‘The US and its allies cannot dictate to China the political system by which it is governed. But they can and must engineer conditions which embolden and enable those in China who also want regime change to achieve it.’
Roger Garside | former British diplomat in Beijing, development banker, & capital market development advisor, and author of 'Coming Alive: China After Mao' and a new book 'China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom.'
5/15/2021

CHINADebate

Interview

Mike Lampton
School of Advanced International Studies(SAIS)

'Rivers of Iron': Changing the Face of Asia

‘But what's happened now is that Southeast Asia is rich enough to contemplate such infrastructure and that the Chinese have the technology, money, and high-speed rail industry so that they can both finance or help finance and build it.’
10/7/2020
1 / 3