Deng Xiaopeng's rise to leadership in the People's Republic of China has been accompanied by massive economic and structural reforms. Some claim that these reforms led to the rise of the pro-democracy student movements of 1987 and 1989, and there has been a notable amount of scholarly investigation into their political and economic consequences. Deng and his pre-Tiananmen protege, Zhao Ziyang, employed a variety of rhetorical strategies that were designed to justify and legitimate the reforms in the face of orthodox Marxist opposition. The catch phrase, "primary stage of socialism," is a redefinition of orthodox Marxist theory which enabled the reforms to continue in the face of Chinese cultural constraints on political rhetoric. It enabled the reform faction in China to demonstrate loyalty to orthodox Marxism, while introducing quasi-capitalistic measures into the centrally planned Chinese economy. Part of the reason for the failure of the reforms was the inability to fully legitimate the reform program without a complete revamping of Marxist orthodoxy. Any future challenge to the status quo in China will either have to demonstrate a linkage to traditional marxist theory or overcome the theory's stronghold on Chinese society. (Fifty notes are included.) (SG)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Speech Communication Association (77th, Atlanta, GA, October 31-November 3, 1991).
China; Political Rhetoric; Rhetorical Effectiveness; Rhetorical Strategies