Date of this Version
November 9, 2009 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
1. “What Came Down Was the Wall and What Stood Up Was the People,” by Shi Zhe, a translation of an op-ed from Southern Weekend (hat tip Danwei):
The resurgence of Germany after the war was achieved by each and every person living in a misshaped land. In the end it was regular people that were the main reason West Germany was able to win the peaceful competition between two systems. Their hard work day in and day out the proved themselves to the world, redeeming the dignity of the entire ethnicity. Outsiders usually like to evaluate the Berlin Wall from the vantage point of geopolitics, competing powers, social systems, ideology and economic base, but the legacy of regular Germans is a story permeated with humanity and the freshness of life. There are sad, joyful and even funny stories, such as the first youth to try to sneak over the wall who was shot to death.
2. “The German Wall That Fell–and the Chinese Regime That Didn’t,” by Jeffrey Wasserstrom at Huffington Post:
The following paragraphs focus on the considerable strengths and also a couple of weakenesses of a recent publication that I find it very helpful to have on hand whenever I grapple with the puzzle of the longevity of the Beijing regime: David Shambaugh’s China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation (University of California Press).
Written by a high-profile political scientist and published in hard cover in 2008 and then in a paperback edition this year, Shambaugh’s book is a very fitting one to turn to just now, as the media is filled with retrospective looks at the last days of the Berlin Wall. Why? Because the destruction of that great Cold War symbol, more than any of the other wondrous events of 1989, inspired the erroneous belief that the days of all Communist Party regimes were about to end (they live on not just in China but also Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea). And because Shambaugh provides one of the best accounts yet of the post-1989 reinvention of the Chinese Communist Party that has kept China a Leninist country during what many assumed would be a post-Leninist era — not just for Europe, but for the world. He sheds important light, in other words, on why, when speaking of China, we need to think not of a Leninist Extinction but rather a Leninist Mutation.