Seeking Truth and Hiding Facts: Information, Ideology, and Authoritarianism in China by Assoc Prof Jeremy Lee Wallace

10:00 to 11:30
(GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris


A few numbers came to define Chinese politics, until they did not count what mattered and what they counted did not measure up. Seeking Truth and Hiding Facts argues that the Chinese government adopted a system of limited, quantified vision to survive the disasters unleased by Mao Zedong’s leadership. The book explains how that system worked and analyzes how the problems that accumulated in its blind spots led Xi Jinping to take drastic action. Xi’s neopolitical turn—aggressive anti-corruption campaigns, rhetoric inflaming nationalist identities, reassertion of party authority, and personalization of power—is an attempt to fix the problems of the prior system, as well as a hedge against an inability to do so. The book argues that while of course dictators stay in power through coercion and cooptation, they also do so by convincing their populations and themselves of their right to rule. Quantification is one tool in this persuasive arsenal, but it comes with its own perils.


Jeremy Lee Wallace‘s research focuses on Chinese and authoritarian politics. His first book, Cities and Stability: Urbanization, Redistribution, and Regime Survival in China, examines the ways that China has managed its growing cities to maintain order. His current book project, Seeking Truth and Hiding Facts: Information, Ideology, and Authoritarian Rule in China, explores how and why authoritarian regimes rule as they do. The book argues that numbers defined Chinese politics, until they failed to count what mattered and what they counted did not measure up. He is continuing to work on the environmental, political, economic, and social issues connected to urbanization through Cornell’s Center for Social Sciences project, China’s Cities: Divisions and Plans. He teaches courses related to urbanization, authoritarianism, and economic development. China’s Next Economy is a lecture course focusing on today’s debates about the costs and opportunities facing the leaders and citizens of China as they transition into the technology and service-dominated future.

CHAIRPERSON: Associate Professor Ja Ian Chong, Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore

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Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Hybrid Online via Zoom AS8 04-04, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260, National University of Singapore