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88 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 grew out ofa Chinese historical consciousness that romanticized military action. For policy analysts, the first argument tends to support mediation: it would have been possible to understand China's needs and balance them with our own ethnocentrism to avoid conflict on the peninsula. The latter view argues that the historical manifestations ofChinese consciousness directed the regime to war. Chen sees Mao's search for a new Asian order as inner-directed; it did not matter much what Stalin or Kim Il Sung had to say. The war could only have been prevented if the imperialists had left China alone, stood away from Taiwan, cleared out of Korea, and backed off in Vietnam. The consequence ofthe Korean War was that Mao became convinced that he should pursue self-reliance internationally, promote mass mobilization domestically, and develop a more advanced military technology. Chen's work is representative ofthe increasing accomplishments ofChinese scholars, who, without rancor or polemic, utilize local sources in a way that moves us away from the old paradigms of Chinese political behavior, and impels us to reconsider the Korean War by asking new questions and taking new perspectives. Richard C. Kagan Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota Richard C. Kagan is Professor ofHistory and director ofthe EastAsian Studiesprogram . He specializes in international relations, human rights, and the intellectual history ofChina, Korea, andJapan. Wm Jie Chen and Peng Deng. China since the Cultural Revolution: From Totalitarianism to Authoritarianism. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1995. 134 pp. Hardcover $49.95, isbn 0-275-94647-9. The best thing about this book is the clarity ofits thesis, namely that the years since the Cultural Revolution were not a movement toward political liberalization , but a transition from totalitarianism to authoritarianism. The change basically is that the Party and the ideology are now weak, and the regime relies only on coercion. The primary cause of this change is said to be public attitudes, which are "the fundamental agent of any significant political change" (p. 113). The CuIy mversity ^ma[ Revolution destroyed people's faith in the Party and its ideology, the explanation goes; to gain popularity, Deng Xiaoping et al. turned to economic reforms to improve living conditions, but these brought official corruption, and so on, which instead further eroded the regime's legitimacy, leading to the mass moveofHawai 'i Press Reviews 89 ment of1989; since then the regime has had to rely on suppression by force, for it has "only coercion left at its disposal" (p. 115). I am greatly oversimplifying, of course, but that is the general idea. In support of the thesis, and constituting the bulk ofthis thin volume, is a narrative ofpolitical developments from the Cultural Revolution down to Deng's southern tour of1992. Unfortunately, there is not much here that specialists are likely to find new or exciting. The narrative, which is not extremely detailed, is drawn largely from standard secondary sources, the national press, and political commentary from Hong Kong and abroad. Familiar events are recounted, clearly and plausibly enough, though with the usual tendency to resort to insupportable statements about what "Deng and his supporters" or "the intellectuals" or "the Chinese people" "wanted" and "thought," as well as occasional vacuous platitudes like "the state throughout China's history always swings back and forth between the wen (civility) and wu (violence)" (p. 87). The authors ofthis collaborative work are a political scientist (Chen) and a historian (Deng), both assistant professors at American colleges. They attach great weight to the 1989 Beijing Spring, "the most tragic drama in the history of the People's Republic" (p. 65), "surely one ofthe greatest landmarks in the history of modern China" (p. 80), and one is tempted to see this book, with its emphasis on "coercion" and "continuous political repression," as their response to those events. There are signs that it was put together in haste: typographical errors, mistakes in romanization, inconsistencies, and the like. The 1988 TV program He shangis called one of the "sociopolitical preconditions" for Deng Xiaoping's reforms, though these had started nine years earlier (p. 42). The notes to chapter 3 alternate several times in referring to the same work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 88-89
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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