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The Management of Nationalism during the Jiang Era (1994–2002) and Its Implications On Government and Regime Legitimacy

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image of European Journal of East Asian Studies

This paper aims to provide a detailed explanation of how the promotion of different nationalist discourses in China entails distinct repercussions on both government and regime legitimacy, looking for the rationale of governmental appeal to both affirmative and assertive nationalism within the context of general legitimacy crisis suffered by communism in the last years.

Through the analysis of case studies including the return of Hong Kong and Macao under Chinese sovereignty and the success of Beijing's bid for hosting the 2008 Olympic Games, this paper regards the rise of affirmative nationalism as beneficial for the legitimacy of both the Jiang government and the CCP regime as a whole. However, the increasing relevance of assertive nationalism, discussed with reference to the Diaoyu dispute with Japan, and the diplomatic crisis with the US after the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the unauthorised landing of a US surveillance plane on Hainan, has put a challenge on Jiang's government, since it has been effectively used by the leftist wing of the party for gaining more leverage within the CCP with regard to the reformists. At the same time, assertive nationalism has reinforced regime legitimacy, providing effective ammunition to criticise the liberals.


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