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The Center for Strategic Translation provides statesmen and scholars with the tools needed to interpret the Chinese party-state of today while training a new generation of China specialists with the skills needed to guide our relations with the China of tomorrow.

The Center meets this need through initiatives in translation and education. The Center locates, translates, and annotates documents of historic or strategic value that are currently only available in Chinese. Our introductory essays, glossaries, and commentaries are designed to make these materials accessible and understandable to statesmen and scholars with no special expertise in Chinese politics or the Chinese language.

Complementing the Center’s published translations are the Center’s training seminars. Starting in the summer of 2023 the Center will host a series of seminars to instruct young journalists, graduate students, and government analysts in the open-source analysis of Communist Party policy, introduce them to the distinctive lexicon and history of Party speak, and train them how to draw credible conclusions from conflicting or propagandistic documentary sources.
    
The Center is an initiative of the American Governance Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that studies and promotes the betterment of American public institutions and publishes the quarterly magazine Palladium. The Center is directed by Tanner Greer, a noted essayist, journalist, and researcher with expertise interpreting China in the context of American foreign policy.

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Core Socialist Values
Shèhuìzhǔyì Héxīn Jiàzhíguān
社会主义核心价值观

The Core Socialist Values, first presented in 2006 under the tenure of Hu Jintao, were a response to a sense of social crisis born of China’s growing wealth. The boom economy greased the wheels of corruption while exposing an ever larger number of Chinese to the culture of the Western world. By articulating a set of cultural ideals that all Chinese can aspire to, party leaders hope to rescue Chinese society from the moral vacuum of a marketized economy while inoculating Chinese citizens against liberal ideology.  

The Core Socialist Values are expressed as 12 distinct ideals divided into three overarching categories. First are the national values of prosperity and national strength [富强], democracy [民主], civilized behavior [文明] and harmony [和谐]; second are the social values of freedom [自由], equality [平等], justice [公正] and the rule of law [法治]; third are the the individual values of patriotism [爱国], dedication [敬业], integrity [诚信] and friendship [友善]. This list of words is ubiquitous in modern China, adorning classroom walls, public squares, highway billboards, and the speeches of high officials.

 Party leaders are open about why they must publicly articulate and endorse these values. After affirming that these “Core Socialist Values are the soul of the Chinese nation,” Hu Jintao urged cadres to “use them to guide social trends of thought and forge public consensus,” to “guide the building of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” to “adapt Marxism to Chinese conditions… and increase [Marxism’s] appeal to the people,” to take “theories of socialism… and make them a way of thinking,” and to “rally the people under the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics” (Hu Jintao, “Political Report to the 18th Congress, Nov. 2012). Implicit in these statements is the admission that Marxist dogma did not have the same moral authority that it once did, that corruption had weakened what moral authority the Party still had, and that to govern effectively the Party must reestablish this authority in a more broadly based moral sense that would appeal to Chinese of all backgrounds.

Yet fostering the Core Socialist Values is not only a project for changing Chinese perceptions of the Party; it is just as much about changing Chinese perceptions of themselves. As Xi Jinping argued:

Without morals, a country cannot thrive, and its people cannot stand upright. Whether or not a nation or an individual has a strong sense of identity largely depends on their morals. If our people cannot uphold the moral values that have been formed and developed on our own soil, and instead indiscriminately and blindly parrot Western moral values, then it will be necessary to genuinely question whether we will lose our independent ethos as a country and a people. Without this independent ethos, our political,intellectual, cultural and institutional independence will have the rug pulled out from under it (quoted in Gow, “The Core Socialist Values of the Chinese Dream,” p. 11).

This explains why the imagery that accompanies propaganda devoted to the Core Socialist Values is drawn from the paintings, poems, and iconography of pre-socialist China: though words like “justice”and “friendship” transcend national borders, the purpose of the Core Socialist Values is to associate these values with a distinctly Chinese identity. Such an identity, party leaders hope, will fortify the Chinese people from being seduced by corrupting vices at home or subversive strains of thought abroad.  

See also: DISCURSIVE POWER; SOFT BONE DISEASE;

Sources

Michael Gow, "The Core Socialist Values of the Chinese Dream: Towards a Chinese Integral State," Critical Asian Studies (2017), vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 92-116; Ying Mao, "Romanticising the Past: Core Socialist Values and the China Dream as Legitimisation Strategy," Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, vol 49, iss. 2, pp. 162–184.

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