November 17th, 2014
06:06 PM ET

What's behind Chinese nationalism?

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with Elizabeth Economy, a senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and David M. Lampton, the director of China studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, about nationalism in China.

There’s no question there's been a rise in sort of nationalist rhetoric. And as I point out, all these attempts to really subvert the old international order, alternatives to The Asian Development Bank, to the IMF, to the World Bank, to the various security frameworks. Do you think this is Xi or is this a long-term Chinese strategy?

Lampton: What we're seeing is China, not just Xi. We're seeing a China that sees itself in great historic terms. And this isn't so much a new status for China, it's a sort of restoration of national greatness.

And I think we're going to face a China that, on one hand, is cooperative, increasingly cooperative on some economic and global issues, like climate change. But on the other hand, I just was speaking with military people in China last week and they are clearly going to continue to push China's sovereignty, and he's not going to give on that set of issues.

So he's walking a fine line by trying to seem a good global citizen on the one hand, but assuage this nationalistic drive on the other.

What about the nationalism?

Economy: No, I agree. I guess I see the nationalism, though, in sort of two different respects. You know, one is, as Mike was alluding to, sort of the nationalism that emanates from strength, right? China is the second largest economy in the world, wants to expand its influence, sort of be at the center of the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

But at the same time, I think there’s a much more insidious form of nationalism, and that's the nationalism that doesn't tolerate a diversity of opinion. And that's where we see Xi Jinping clamping down on the artist and the intellectuals and talking about colluding with foreigners within the Chinese Academy of Social Scientists and really putting a chill, I think, on the kind of creativity and innovation that he actually wants to support.

And so when I look at these two forms of nationalism, I think to myself this second insidious form really undermines his efforts to put China out in front as a global leader with a shared vision for the Asia-Pacific. So I think he faces that kind of challenge, as well.

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Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Blue Saffron☼

    "Subvert"? Really, Fareed ! China is in a natural projectile of prosperous ascension to world stage. It is introducing refined concepts of international monetary policy just as Moslems did in Islamic financing. Nothing sinister in this all. It is brilliant finance.

    November 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
  2. Blue Saffron☼

    You call it nationalism I call it national pride. Chinese know they have it all. They are just cool about it. Unlike Bush's Mission Accomplished.... immaturity !!

    November 17, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
    • Philip

      Bush's Mission Accomplished? Is that all you got? How about Bush's Margie Shoedinger. Or Marvin Bush's Securacom. Or the entire Bush gang saddling up and riding The Silerado Savings and Loan Scandal. Or the Bush-Bin Laden founded group of war profiteers The Carlyle Group.
      "Mission Accomplished". Why didn't you just make fun of him for snorting coke. Sheesh.

      November 17, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
  3. Philip

    Chinese people get their nationalism from the same place you do.

    November 17, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
  4. Philip

    No Wal-Mart, no China. Easy peasy.

    November 17, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
  5. Maxwell Smart

    Guess what country Levi's are made in. Then would you believe Schwinn bicycles are made there too?

    November 17, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
  6. China vs. US nuclear power

    It's simple. Nuclear reactors built by Americans are based on the military model of generating nuclear energy. While the Chinese use the civilian model. P.S. It is impossible for the civilian model to overheat or melt down. And is why the world's premier builder of nuclear power plans, U.S. Brown&Root, are now a trash collecting service in Birmingham, Alabama. Cleaning up after hurricane Katrina even.

    November 17, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
    • China vs. US nuclear power

      Boeing will be no problem for Chinese to put out of business.

      November 17, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
      • Boeng janitor

        W'w' a minute now. So. How long before Boeing goes under? I just bought a new Suburu and financed it for 6 years.

        November 17, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
  7. chri§§y

    Behind Chinese nationalism:::


    111,383 killed
    11,047 wounded
    11,696 missing
    123,968 captured
    131,544 ran away to Bhutan and still are hiding scared from Chinese.

    November 18, 2014 at 8:43 am |
  8. chri§§y

    @ the derp ass troll who stold my name ~ Would you please use your own name to copy and paste your current mission statement propoganda under ok?

    November 18, 2014 at 9:42 am |
  9. Richard Westerhoff

    My wife and I were in China in 2007. The people we met, mostly school teachers of English, had $150.00 American money worth of Yuan to spend every month. None of them had driver's license and the taxi driver's we met did not know how to read Chinese or had any education. We saw with our own eyes the have's and have-nots and there were a lot more have-nots than have's. For China to change there will have to be a revolution in education. I know more and more are now "middle-class" but you'll have to prove it in the country-side where we were. perhaps this will happen we'll just have to see

    November 18, 2014 at 11:51 am |
    • Davidake

      Rick, go China have a look again now and see what is different from 2007.

      November 19, 2014 at 5:43 am |
  10. Blue Saffron☼

    China is the next and the only hope left for this world. The existing paradigm has failed. Poverty, schisms, conflicts, democratic demise is prevalent and the world is a divided place. We need change. Change from status quo. Change from the UN system. Change from current superpower imbalance and ineffectiveness.

    November 18, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Mexico City (AFP) – Mexico's under-fire President Enrique Pena Nieto defended on Tuesday his wife's controversial purchase of a mansion owned by a government contractor, saying the former soap opera star would provide her own public explanation.

    A visibly irate Pena Nieto lashed out at a report of a house purchase that has raised ethical questions about his administration, saying the information was full of "falsehoods."

    November 19, 2014 at 1:24 am |
  12. Thomas

    It's all about he money !

    November 19, 2014 at 1:24 am |
  13. Blue Saffron☼

    Behind Chinese nationalism is the great Cantonese Culinary delights.

    November 19, 2014 at 11:49 pm |
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