Fri, Dec 14, 2012 - Page 9 News List

A new leader who talks of a ‘Chinese dream’ of national revival

As the next president of China displays nationalist leanings, analysts point to precedents for a strengthening of leadership and a more robust foreign policy

By Edward Wong  /  NY Times News Service, BEIJING

After the Opium Wars, nationalist intellectuals, including Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), pushed for rejuvenation. He founded the Revive China Society, whose motto was to “expel the Manchus, revive China and establish a unified government.”

In Schell’s view, “if there is any one sentiment that has tied all the thinkers and leaders of China’s 20th century together, it is certainly nationalism.”

John Delury, a historian who is Schell’s co-author, said there was a millennia-old concept of rejuvenation in dynastic China that the party might find relevant now.

It was called a “middle revival,” or zhong xing (中興), and was used to describe a period midway through a dynastic cycle when an empire had to revive itself to move past the failings of weak leadership.

“To rally the troops, there’s a call for zhong xing,” Delury said. “The archetype is you have these strong founding emperors, and then you have an inexorable weakening, and then there’s a crisis, and a strong leader emerges in the middle who pushes the zhong xing. It gives the dynasty a second life.”

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