What Have the Romans Ever Done for China?

Too late for Bo Xilai, Geremie Barmé suggests that Cicero’s advice for securing election to the Roman Senate might also be of use to China’s political elite as they gather this week for the 18th Party Congress. From his selections at The China Story: Your must diligently cultivate relationships with these men of privilege. Both you and your friends should work to convince them that you have always been a traditionalist. Never let them think you are a populist. […] Do not overlook your family and those closely connected with you. Make sure they all are behind you and want you to succeed. This includes your tribe, your neighbours, your clients, your former slaves, and even your servants. For almost every destructive rumor that makes its way to the public begins among family and friends. […] Finally, as regards the Roman masses, be sure to put on a good show. Dignified yes, but full of color and spectacle that appeals so much to crowds. It also wouldn’t hurt to remind them of what scoundrels your opponents are and to smear these men at every opportunity with the crimes, sexual scandals, and corruption they have brought on themselves. Though denunciations of scoundrelly rivals and colourful if only occasionally dignified spectacles were pillars of the U.S. election campaign that concluded this week, Barmé argues that Cicero’s instructions are still more applicable to Chinese politics than to Western democracies. At The Diplomat, meanwhile, defence analyst James R. Holmes writes that Roman history might offer China valuable lessons for its handling of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute with Japan: Enter Quintus Fabius. During Rome’s second war against the North African city-state of Carthage, general and dictator Fabius mastered the art of stalling for time against the vaunted Carthaginian army commanded by Hannibal. Time was on ...
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