Cover: Nuances in Chinese Political Culture

Nuances in Chinese Political Culture

Published 1970

by Lucian Pye, Nathan Constantin Leites


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An examination of some themes in Chinese culture that may explain the political behavior of the Chinese — their emphasis on overcoming by strategic deception, their preference for big enemies, their exploitation of opportunism. Stated objectives are not commitments but maneuvers. Leaders give signals subtly by unrealistic statements about the past. Success comes from knowing the right moment to ride the wave of history and from being prepared through long, single-minded concentration on sources of inspiration (whether Taoist, Confucian, or Maoist). Change is perceived as sudden, not cumulative. Changed sentiments are either compelled by circumstances or result from an unmasking of the true self. Stress on environment and education conflict with suspicion that evil persons may only pretend virtue. Emotional display is derided, but old grudges are respected. Enmity is assumed permanent. Authority is not responsible for subordinates' behavior and is acceptable so long as it protects, benefits, and avoids humiliating.

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