China’s ‘New Left’ Grows Louder

The Wall Street Journal’s Brian Spegele examines China’s ‘New Left’, which combines opposition to corruption and economic inequality with support for Maoist values and its former “ray of hope“, Bo Xilai. While Bo’s fall—seen on the new left as a politically-motivated set-up—dealt the movement a heavy blow, the number Mao placards at recent anti-Japanese protests hints that its popular appeal may be on the rise.

Dealing with the new left requires some balancing for the party. Unlike the political activists who often oppose the party on democratic or human-rights grounds, the new leftists act as defenders of the vision Mao once laid out for China: Rejecting them outright would risk exposing party leaders to sensitive questions around the very foundation the party is built on.

[…] Political analysts say scenes of blue-collar workers and students embracing Maoist imagery and slogans during officially tolerated anti-Japanese protests in a number of Chinese cities last month underscored leaders’ fears that support for the new left could spread. Many protesters said in interviews the demonstrations were also a way to express dissatisfaction with what they see as weak party leadership and Beijing’s inability to protect China’s interests.

See also ‘People’s Daily Urges Nationalist’s Arrest‘, on the fallout from new leftist Han Deqiang’s slapping of an elderly man for “disrespecting” Mao Zedong during an anti-Japanese protest last month, and more on the new left via CDT.