Jeffrey Wasserstrom, professor of Chinese history and author of several books on China, tries to see the silver lining in recent gathering clouds, by showing that bad news for others can be good news for China’s leadership. Bad news stories outside China help in keeping clean the Party’s immaculate image and maintaining control of the country:
Could it be that the party’s ability to live on borrowed time is finally running out? If the only sort of bad news that mattered were the domestic kind, it would be tempting to say: Yes. In fact, though, another kind of bad news, which perversely tends to be good news for China’s leaders, has also been abundant this year. I mean news of chaos and misgovernment in other countries.
[…] The opening months of 2013 have been less of a mixed bag for China’s leaders[…] Xi hasn’t accomplished much in diplomatic terms with his trips to foreign countries, but when it comes to events taking place in other parts of the world, there has been plenty of just the kind of bad news that is music to the ears of China’s leaders. [Source]
Events such as ethnic violence in Myanmar and the Snowden affair have made China’s leaders look relatively mild, but the best bad news for Beijing has been Egypt. The once stable country’s quest for democracy has descended into chaos. These kinds of bad news stories are carefully crafted into a narrative which is part of the Party’s “multipronged strategy to defend the status quo”.
For more from Jeffrey Wasserstrom via CDT, click here.
* Following a note from Wasserstrom, we have edited the title of this post to better reflect his original meaning.