In This Review

China Since Tiananmen: The Politics of Transition
China Since Tiananmen: The Politics of Transition
By Joseph Fewsmith
Cambridge University Press, 2001, 299 pp.

Most Westerners assume that post-Tiananmen China has a government intolerant of dissent and citizens concerned only with getting wealthy. Fewsmith, a master scholar of Chinese intellectuals, presents a different picture, suggesting that the Chinese political elite is divided over policy and power. In fact, China's intellectuals are a diverse lot, engaged in earnest debates over alternative visions for China's future. In recent years, new schools of thought have taken ideas from Western sources but given them distinctive Chinese characteristics. For example, neoconservatives and new authoritarians believe that China can follow the Western path toward economic modernization -- but under the guiding discipline of a strong state. Arrayed against them are postmodernists and leftists as well as populist nationalists who have revived Maoist ideas about people power. But the hope that Marxism-Leninism's passing will bring a better day for China needs to be kept in check, the author warns. Many of its intellectuals have strong nationalistic (and anti-American) views. Although many Chinese thinkers are trying to articulate new ideals for nationalism, Enlightenment values are sadly on the defensive.