The Chinese paternalistic state and moral education


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

12 Citations (Scopus)


When the Communist Party of China (CPC) stated in 2001 that “while we strengthen the development of the socialist legal system and ruling the nation by law, we must also conscientiously strengthen the development of socialist morality and ruling the nation through morality (yi de zhi guo)” (Chinese Communist Party Central Committee 2006, p. 56), it was expressing in variant form a description of good governance with an ancient lineage. It is the argument of this chapter that the Communist Party’s claim to rule the nation by law and through morality encapsulates its adherence to political-cultural rules about good governance in the form of the institution of paternalism, and that, like previous Chinese regimes, it claims legitimacy on the basis of embodying paternalism and its associated qualities. In building this argument, the chapter fi rst briefl y summarises key points of the literature on Chinese state legitimacy in the post-1978 reform period. Noting that scholars have found continuity between the post-1978 reform era and earlier regimes in terms of Chinese political culture, Confucian ideas on governance, and the concept of paternalism, the chapter then presents the argument that adherence to paternalism as an institution in itself constitutes an overarching claim to legitimacy. The next part of the chapter describes in some detail the main qualities associated with the classical conception of paternalism while again referring to the literature on Chinese state legitimacy to bring out parallels with modern Chinese states. The chapter concludes with a description of how moral education, as a key component of paternalism, has been a fundamental, yet malleable, feature of all Chinese regimes, and suggests some avenues for future research. Copyright © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCitizenship education in China: Preparing citizens for the "Chinese century"
EditorsKerry J. KENNEDY, Gregory P. FAIRBROTHER, Zhenzhou ZHAO
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9780203797129, 9781136022081
ISBN (Print)9780415502726
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Fairbrother, G. P. (2014). The Chinese paternalistic state and moral education. In K. J. Kennedy, G. P. Fairbrother, & Z. Zhao (Eds.), Citizenship education in China: Preparing citizens for the "Chinese century" (pp. 11-26). New York: Routledge.


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