Nationalism, however, is by no means a cure for social problems, but it does help divert the public’s attention from these problems. In this sense, the deeper a country is in trouble, the more its government tends to stimulate nationalism to its own advantage. Nationalism, above all, is “a sentiment of unity” which “expresses itself inloyalty to the nation-state whatever the government,” and it “requires . . . almost absolute devotion to and conformity with the will of the nation-state as this is expressed by the ruler or rulers (autocratic or democratic).” Since the CPC is ruling China and presenting itself as the Chinese government, it can always take advantage of nationalism and demand its people’s loyalty to the party in thename of national interest.
To understand Chinese nationalism, as well as its intent and purpose, it would be necessary to study the content of the PRC’s nationalist ideology. Michael Mann, a scholar on nationalism, has identified three groups of people who are most susceptible to nationalist appeals. They are: 1) government employees who depend on the state for their livelihood; 2) the youth whohave been educated by the state; and, 3) the armed forces. Mann observed that it is these three “bodies of men, and their families” who provide most of the “fervent nationalists” with “an exaggerated loyalty” to what they conceive to be the ideals of their nation-state. In the case of the People’s Republic, given its irredentist enthusiasm in the aftermath of Hong Kong’s return, the Chinese armedforces are clearly the most important of Mann’s three groups. Through their training and education, the young soldiers have been systematically imbued with the government’s world view and ideals. Given this, any study of contemporary Chinese nationalism would be remiss if it did not include a treatment of the nationalist ideology of the people’s liberation army (PLA), as revealed in PLA and relatedmilitary publications.
An analysis of the nationalist ideology of China’s armed forces thus constitutes the primary focus of this dissertation. Through an account of the nationalist ideology of the PLA, this study hopes to provide a better understanding of the ideological content of contemporary Chinese nationalism on its worldview, beliefs, values and prescriptions. That understanding will be thesubject of the next chapter.
CHARPTER TWO – APPEAL TO NATIONALISM
For a single-party controlled government like Communist China, the CPC can easily utilize nationalism to its own advantage. Its common trick is to deliberately blend the concepts of nation-state, the party and the government into one, and adroitly channel a nationalist sentiment into an allegiance to the ruling elite. In order tounravel what has been twisted regarding nationalism, it is significant for us first to examine the conceptual distinctions between nation in general and Chinese nationalism in particular; then, to discuss the significance of nationalism to the Communist regime in China.
NATIONALISM AND ITS RELATED CONCEPTS
The effort to define nationalism must begin with distinguishing a nation from a state....