Governing Information: The Staff Politics of the Central Party in the Post-Mao Period
Nov 16, 2022 | 2:00 - 3:30 pm (PT)
Lecture at UC Berkeley (223 Moses Hall) | Series: Global Challenge in the Asia-Pacific – Past & Present | Tsai Wen-Hsuan (Academia Sinica, Taipei); Discussant: Wen-hsin Yeh (UC Berkeley)
Sponsors: Institute of European Studies (UC Berkeley), ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, Stanford University
In the Mao Zedong period (1949–1976), the high-level staff system of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mainly worked on the line struggle. In the post-Mao period, it began to promote reform, opening up, and modernization. The staff mainly included the leaders of the CCP Central General Office (中央办公厅, zhongyang bangongting) and the personal secretaries of the Politburo Standing Committee members. In the post-Mao period, the staff system played an important function in transmitting information. The CCP established a complete transmission system of internal reference (内参, neican). Then, with the assistance of the secretary (秘书, mishu), they implemented the written directives (批示, pishi) shared by the leader in the internal reference. Through the roles and political instruments of secretaries, internal references, and instructions, we believe that the CCP’s governance of information in the post-Mao period is its confidentiality mechanism for consolidating authoritarian resilience.
This lecture is part of a series of talks and roundtables about "Global Challenge in the Asia-Pacific – Past & Present." The event is generously funded by the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. Co-sponsors are the Li Ka-shing Foundation Program in Modern Chinese History at the History Department, the Center for Chinese Studies, and the Institute for International Studies (all at University of California, Berkeley), and the China Program at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University.
About the "Global Challenge in the Asia-Pacific – Past & Present"
In recent decades, many observers confidently predicted that the twenty-first century would become the “Pacific Century,” in which Asian countries would outpace the traditional leading powers of the West, and China would become America’s greatest rival for global domination. Such future visions often overlook that the Asia-Pacific region already played a formative role in twentieth-century history. With the events series “Global Challenge in the Asia-Pacific,” the German Historical Institute Washington, in conjunction with the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University, initiates a dialogue between historians from Asia, North America, and Europe about the far-reaching repercussions of twentieth-century Asian-Pacific history for current geopolitics.
The series is generously funded by the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. Co-sponsors are the Li Ka-shing Foundation Program in Modern Chinese History at the History Department, the Center for Chinese Studies, and the Institute for International Studies (all at University of California, Berkeley), and the China Program at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University.
November 14, 2022 | Lecture at Stanford University (Okimoto Room, Encina Hall 3rd Floor)
Speaker: David Leese (University of Freiburg); Discussant: Andrew G. Walder (Stanford University)
November 16, 2022 | Lecture at UC Berkeley (223 Moses Hall)
Speaker: Tsai Wen-Hsuan (Academia Sinica, Taipei); Discussant: Wen-hsin Yeh (UC Berkeley)
November 16, 2022 | Panel Discussion at UC Berkeley (223 Moses Hall)
Panelists: Tsai Wen-Hsuan (Academia Sinica, Taipei); Wen-hsin Yeh (UC Berkeley); Daniel Leese (University of Freiburg)
About the Speakers
Puck Engman is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a historian of China in the postwar era, with a particular emphasis on the history of socialism. His research covers the socialist reorganization of state and society in the early People’s Republic as well as the transition from socialism to capitalism towards the end of the twentieth century.
Daniel Leese is a Professor of Chinese history and politics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. His publications include Mao Cult. Rhetoric and Ritual during China’s Cultural Revolution (Cambridge University Press 2011) and Mao’s Long Shadow: How China Dealt with Its Past (in German), which won the ICAS Best Book Award and was shortlisted for the German Non-Fiction Award. He currently works on a new project that traces what the party leadership knew about domestic and international affairs through secret communication channels.
Wen-Hsuan Tsai (蔡文轩) is a research fellow at the Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. His main academic interests are Chinese political development and comparative authoritarian regimes. He has recently published articles in Asian Survey, China: An International Journal, China Review, China Journal, China Quarterly, China Perspectives, Journal of Contemporary China, Journal of Chinese Political Science, Journal of East Asian Studies, Modern China, Problems of Post-Communism, and Issues & Studies. He is the author of the monograph The Logic of Political Reform in Mainland China: A Comparative Study of Sichuan, Guangdong, and Jiangsu (2011) (in Chinese) and co-author of Targeting the 18th Party Congress: The CCP’s Fifth Generation of Political Leaders (2012) (in Chinese).
Andrew G. Walder is the Denise O’Leary and Kent Thiry Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and Senior Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. A political sociologist, Walder has long specialized on the sources of conflict, stability, and change in communist regimes and their successor states. His publications on China have ranged from the political and economic organization of the Mao era to changing patterns of stratification, social mobility, and political conflict in the post-Mao era. Another focus of his research has been on the political economy of Soviet-type economies and their subsequent reform and restructuring. His current research focuses on popular political mobilization in late-1960s China and the subsequent collapse and rebuilding of the Chinese party-state. His monographs include Agents of Disorder: Inside China’s Cultural Revolution (Harvard University Press 2019), China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed (Harvard University Press 2015), and Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement (Harvard University Press 2009).
Wen-hsin Yeh is the Richard H. and Laurie C. Morrison Chair Professor and a Distinguished Professor in the Department of History. She is a social and political historian of culture and knowledge in late imperial and modern China, Taiwan, and maritime East Asia. Her research examines Sino-Western engagement in nineteenth and twentieth century China and the consequences of systemic disequilibrium. Her areas of research include higher education (The Alienated Academy: Culture and Politics in Republican China, Harvard University Press 1990 & 2000), Communist and Confucian political thought (Provincial Passages: Culture and Space in the Origin of Chinese Communism, University of California Press 1996), the city (Shanghai Splendor: Economic Sentiments and the Making of Modern China, University of California Press, 2007), visual culture and the global World War II (In the Shadow of the Rising Sun, Cambridge University Press, 2004). Her current project concerns Chinese maritime statecraft, indigenous peoples, and transitional justice on Taiwan.