The rapid decay of Maoist ideological beliefs and the need for continued stability in the Chinese Communist Party have led to an increased reliance on nationalism as a unifying ideology. Patriotic sentiment is no longer the sole province of the Party and its propagandists. Just as commercialization created a new, avaricious social contract of kinds, so nationalism in the 1990s has functioned to form a basis for consensus beyond the bounds of official culture. But it is a consensus that for the time being at least benefits the Party (or should we call talk more simply of "the power-holders"?). Both economic realities and national priorities call for a strong central state and thus tend to give an ideologically weakened Communist Party a renewed role in the broader contest for the nation.

Since 1989 there have been numerous indications within Chinese society of a growing disenchantment with the West and its allies. People have been sorely aware that the post-1989 transformation in Eastern Europe and the Russia has not been as rapid or as positive as first expected. As in many other parts of the world, there is a general belief that the West, its values and systems have not made that much difference to post-Communist countries. For those who supported the 1989 student movement, there is the added realization that if China had then successfully undergone a major political upheaval the nation could well have been faced with the disorder that now dogs Russia's rulers.

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