A Monkey King’s Journey to the East

What follows is an excerpt from an illustrated essay that appears in the newly launched online publication China Heritage, which is based in author Geremie Barme’s new home in New Zealand.  It is well worth reading in full and the site is one to watch.

Jeff Wasserstrom <jwassers@uci.edu>

Source: China Heritage
A Monkey King’s Journey to the East
By Geremie R. Barmé

imagesThe following meditation is an envoi to 2016 which, according to the traditional Chinese calendar, was the Year of the Golden Monkey and it offers a reflection on the long years that lie ahead.

— The Editor, 1 January 2017

The 13 January 1967 issue of Time magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline ‘China in Chaos’. Fifty years later, Time made US president-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a ground-swell of mass support, both men rebelled against the established order in their respective countries and set about throwing the world into confusion. Both share an autocratic mind set, Mao Zedong as Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump as Chairman of the Board. As Jiaying Fan noted in May 2016, both also share a taste for ‘polemical excess and xenophobic paranoia’. For his part, Mao’s rebellion led to national catastrophe and untold human misery.

On 20 January 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the forty-fifth president of the United States of America. Although some of China’s New Leftists hailed Trump’s November 2016 win as a validation of ever-victorious Mao Zedong Thought, there is little reason to think that a Trump-led America will give much succour to China’s ideologues. In the two months since the US election, through a phone call to Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen, repeated comments on China’s currency manipulation and his intervention in a dispute over a underwater US drone waylaid by the Chinese navy in the South China Sea, Trump has indicated that he is taking an unpredictable approach to the most important global bilateral relationship. Even long-standing friends and allies of the US have been thrown off guard as they learn how to live with the Great Disrupter.

Chairman Trump Zedong

The Chinese Communist Party under its Chairman of Everything, Xi Jinping, hasn’t had to confront such an unpredictable and populist leader since Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolutionary fifty years ago…

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