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Day 2 15:45 Panel 17

Xi's China

Upper Hall

Leigh Scott Lawrence; Li Mengran; Beatrice Gallelli

Leigh Scott Lawrence,

University of Cambridge, Year 1 PhD in Education

A New Ideology for a New Era; How “Xi Thought” Educates 21st Century China
Throughout its turbulent 20th century, China’s education policy was closely tied to its geopolitical strategy, with education reforms reflecting broader societal and political goals. This strategic relationship continues today with China’s sweeping education reforms that have a strong focus on “moral” education. Reforms thus far range from the conceptual, such as equating morality, patriotism, and nationalism, to tangible changes within classrooms such as textbook edits and mandatory ideo-political courses.
In 2017 a new ideology, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” became enshrined in the Chinese Constitution, echoing Maoist Thought that guided revolution – and spurred destruction –nearly 80 years ago. Despite the heavy propaganda and enthusiasm for “Xi Thought,” questions remain as to the impetus and implementation of this new ideology, such as: How does China define this “New Era” through education?; What are the societal, political, and economic goals or changes for this time period?; and, How does “Xi Thought” support, guide, or even limit, 21st century China ideology?
The reforms illustrate China’s 21st century education agenda: responding to the advances of globalization and increased presence on the world’s stage, further underlying the need for an ideologically-strong society. Through a textual analysis of official policy documents, this paper will analyze “Xi Thought” and its implications for the Chinese education system, providing clear examples of the Chinese education system contextualizing civics education within a changing society. As these reforms are happening in real-time, this study will bridge the gap between research and policy to provide an up-to-date analysis of Chinese education reform. This project will also address broader questions within education theory, such as the intersection of education and societal development and the correlative relationships between society, globalization, and education.

Li Mengran(Leo),

Peking University, Year 2 Master in China Studies

Rebalancing Chinese Narrative in the New Era: Analysis on National Narrative

Adaptation and Its Political Influence

From mighty revolutionary struggle at the beginning stage of the communist regime to rapid modern development under the context of globalization for more than thirty years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has carved a multitude of narrative pieces into history for reflection since its foundation. Under nation-state mindset and authoritarian leadership, China has been demonstrating the capability to stay unified in terms of national narrative voices, which means that even though political eras change over different time and leadership, a distinguishable Chinese national narrative for certain era and time could be found through particular political tongue, media emphasis as well as public reaction. Analysis on the features and changes of this narrative could thus be helpful in understanding the general Chinese society within certain time as well as social era evolvement. At the crossroad of revolutionary past and neo-liberal developmental practice, China has embraced the “New Era” at almost all observing angles since Xi Jinping took power in 2012.

This paper intends to draw up a picture on China’s general national narrative in the ongoing Xi era, note its adaptation compared with the narrative elements in previous times, and analyze its formation incentives as well as political influences in the long run. Neither revolutionary nor low-profile, Xi era has witnessed a more and more positively reshaped national narrative towards the imagery of optimism, confidence and nationalism. This narrative could be a natural adaptation stimulated by merited optimism towards a stronger Chinese nation-state, or could also be a “preterm infant” owing to international anxiety and political layouts. The formation of this narrative could give more spiritual incentives to society while increasing power legitimacy, but also fostering sense of political inaction and extremity, raising the stake on political uncertainty and social risks.

Beatrice Gallelli,

Ca' Foscari University (PhD Thesis Defended)

An old dream for a globalised China: Retrotopia in contemporary Chinese political discourse

As soon as he has taken the reins of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping launches the ambitious vision and goal of realizing the “Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, which would mark the beginning of China’s “new era”. At first glance, the “Chinese dream” seems to be merely a “copy” of the much more famous American dream. On closer inspection, however, it is characterized by profound historical connotations and deep political implications. The goal of "rejuvenation", albeit attractively wrapped by Xi, is far from being new, as it accompanies Chinese political discourse since the late nineteenth century. It has its roots in the representation of a glorious past, then shattered by foreign imperialism, so that “the old good days” and “the centenary of humiliation” at the hands of foreign powers become the foundation to project the nation into its future. This presentation aims to shed light on how these narratives intertwine to shape Chinese national identity in the era of globalization. Moving from Goffman’s theorization of frame (1986), it will highlight how Chinese political discourse on the “Chinese dream” draws heavily from an essentialist view of Chinese tradition - the same one that was strongly flighted in Great Helmsman’s time – in order to propose a “better modernity” (Dirlik 2002).

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2017. Retrotopia. Bari-Roma: Edizioni Laterza.
Dirlik, Arif. 2002. “Modernity as History: Post-Revolutionary China, Globalization and the Question of Modernity”. Social History 27 (1): 16-39, 27.
Goffman, Erving. 1986. Frame Analysis. An essay on the organization of experience. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

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