‘Selecting the Refined and Discarding the Dross’

The Post-1990 Chinese Leadership’s Attitude Towards Cultural Tradition

Authored by: Jiawen Ai

Routledge Handbook of Heritage in Asia

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415600453
eBook ISBN: 9780203156001
Adobe ISBN: 9781136582042

10.4324/9780203156001.ch8

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Abstract

China, in many regards, has become a country of profound contradictions: an ostensibly Marxist-socialist country experiencing massive economic growth caused by stark capitalist policies; a nation where cultural politics underlie the complexities of presenting a unified nation in the face of great and often tense diversity; and a ruling party striving to reorient its relationship with the past that it had once brutally suppressed. Over the past four decades, few countries in Asia have had as complicated a relationship with their cultural heritage as China. Recent events of international stature such as the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 Expo in Shanghai were saturated in references to the rich and long history of Chinese culture and tradition. However, as I discuss in this chapter, the positioning of culture and heritage – phrased here as ‘traditional culture’ based upon how it is identified in official discourse at the upper levels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – is a highly politicised and strategic effort.

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