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Since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the Communist Party of China (CCP) has been vexed by a simple question: What is it fighting for? As the country began to adopt market reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, CCP theorists were forced into contortions providing ideological justifications for policies that appeared overtly capitalist. Deng Xiaoping’s concept of “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” came to be seen as a theoretical fig leaf rather than a description of an egalitarian economic system, and by the 2000s, a consensus emerged that the CCP had completely abandoned any pretense of pursuing the Marxist vision it purported to hold. With the rise of Xi Jinping, however, the Party talks with renewed vigor about Marxism-Leninism and the goal of achieving actual, existing socialism. Has the CCP re-discovered communism? In this talk, CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies Jude Blanchette will discuss the abandoned and existing legacies of Mao Zedong, Marxism-Leninism, and the CCP’s vision of socialism.
Jude Blanchette holds the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Previously, he was engagement director at The Conference Board’s China Center for Economics and Business in Beijing, where he researched China’s political environment with a focus on the workings of the Communist Party of China and its impact on foreign companies and investors. Prior to working at The Conference Board, Blanchette was the assistant director of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego. Blanchette has written for a range of publications, including Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, and his Chinese translations have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. His book, China’s New Red Guards: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019.
This event is part of the 2021 Winter/Spring Colloquia series, Biden’s America, Xi’s China: What’s Now & What’s Next?, sponsored by APARC's China Program.