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Heroes and Role Models

Mao Zedong, Jack Ma, Xi Jinping or Steve Jobs?

That is why it is a great challenge for the Communist Party to establish state compliant but at the same time convincing role models:

This web special provides answers to the questions: Which types of heroes and role models is China’s government striving for? Which values are they suppose to convey? How does China’s urban middle class react to the state hero propaganda? Which role models and heroes exist parallel or in opposition to the official depictions?

State hero propaganda in a fragmented society

Generally material wealth and self-realisation play a big role in choosing a role model. In light of flagging economic growth this poses an increasing challenge for the Chinese government. Despite ideological campaigns trying to contain “western ideas” and western pop culture it is particularly western stars and sportspeople which are popular role models for young Chinese.

It is unlikely that the Communist Party will bring forth role models any time soon which it will be able to tie in ideologically with a wide section of the population. The living environment of the young middle class is too fragmented and one cynically views the conjured heroes. The notions and terminology seem so far away from their daily life with their aims being far more inward-looking/self-centred. 

  • Stiftung Mercator