In This Review

Challenging the Mandate of Heaven: Social Protest and State Power in China
Challenging the Mandate of Heaven: Social Protest and State Power in China
By Elizabeth J. Perry
376 pp, M. E. Sharpe, 2001
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The Chinese theory of the mandate of heaven dictates that any rebellion can claim instant legitimacy if it topples the existing rulers. Starting with a brief report of Beijing's repressive reaction to the recent rise of the Falun Gong movement, Perry goes back into Chinese history to recount in rich detail the astonishing record of the rebellions, revolts, and mass movements that have repeatedly punctuated dynastic rule. The story includes the feisty history of Shanghai's labor strife, which began with noncommunist challenges to the Nationalist regime and then led to a series of strikes during the communist era, which received little attention in the West. Perry also offers numerous examples of rural violence against the communist rulers. Although she does not predict an end to communist rule, she makes it clear that the Chinese tradition of mass movements makes such an event plausible.