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Reviewed by:
  • The Culture of Leadership in Contemporary China: Conflict, Values, and Perspectives for a New Generation by Paul Michael Linehan, and: China in the Era of Xi Jinping: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges ed. by Robert S. Ross and Jo Inge Bekkevold
  • Stanley Rosen (bio)
Paul Michael Linehan. The Culture of Leadership in Contemporary China: Conflict, Values, and Perspectives for a New Generation. Lanham, Boulder, New York, and London: Lexington Books, 2018. vii, 277 pp. Hardcover $105.00, isbn 978-1-4985-5727-6.
Robert S. Ross and Jo Inge Bekkevold, editors. China in the Era of Xi Jinping: Domestic and Foreign Policy Challenges. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2016. xxii, 306 pp. Hardcover $64.95, isbn 978-1-62616-297-6. Paperback $32.95, isbn 978-1-62616-298-3.

The two volumes under review are dissimilar in many ways, although there are sufficient commonalities to justify reviewing them together. While Linehan's single-authored monograph originated as a dissertation at Georgetown University—indeed, the text (p. 4) still refers to the book as a dissertation, one of many examples of poor proofreading—the Ross/Bekkevold edited volume derives from a conference at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies in May 2013; however, both books deal with Chinese leadership and governance. The Norwegian conference was entitled "China's Rise and Its Fifth Generation Leaders," and the resulting volume focuses, as the title indicates, on the era of [End Page 140] Xi Jinping. By contrast, Linehan seeks to situate Xi within the leadership pantheon that began with Sun Yat-sen over a century ago, and includes individual chapters on Sun, Yuan Shikai, Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek), Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping. A separate chapter on "rising ideologies" very briefly discusses and contrasts the views of returned scholars Chen Duxiu (from France), Hu Shih (from the United States), and Lu Xun (from Japan). These individual chapters offer a standard, generally accepted summary of the backgrounds and ideologies of these leaders, taken from the scholarly and popular literature. Linehan's contribution is the attempt to reveal a continuity of Chinese, even "Asian," values they embraced that are distinct from the "Western" tradition. Offering an analysis of Chinese ideology and governance, the "centerpiece" of Linehan's work is the attempt "to provide some insight into the potential leadership models that served as the catalyst for China and Asia's influence on the world vis-à-vis the societal and cultural core value systems of its people" (p. 5). He notes that the "premise" of the book is that despite the monumental changes that are likely to take place, "its leaders will not abandon the attributes, characteristics and human values that will formulate China's own value systems such as collectivism and respect for elders, authority and social order" (p. 6).

For Linehan, these value systems derive primarily from what he calls "the Big Three" (italics in original) principles of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism, which shape the philosophical, spiritual, and belief systems of Chinese leaders, and a discussion of these three traditions makes up part 1 of the volume, with part 2—by far the longest section—devoted to the individual leaders noted above, followed by part 3 on the Central Party School, which trains future leaders, and a concluding part 4 where he assesses the very likely continuing influence of these past traditions on current and future leaders. While Linehan is narrowly focused on the enduring influence of the Big Three as the cultural glue that allows Chinese leaders to resist the encroachment of Western values, the Ross/Bekkevold volume finds the leadership "encircled" by formal and informal "phenomena" that not only include legacies from the past such as Confucianism and Legalism—the latter which Linehan dismisses because it is not a "human value system per se"—but also encompasses imported concepts such as Soviet-style socialism and Western-style market liberalism, further noting how each new generation of leaders has added a perspective that overlays these traditional Chinese and Marxist-Leninist values, suggesting the complexity of the ever-evolving "socialism with Chinese characteristics." Going further, unlike Linehan who sees the traditional culture as highly...


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