Regime Crises and the Constraints of Ideology: China’s Fascist Turns in the 1930s and 2010s Clemens Büttner

Clemens Büttner

Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany

When comparing the ideological and political reactions of China’s respective political regimes to the prospect of a system crisis in the 1930s and 2010s, it becomes apparent that both the GMD and the CCP regime responded to it in highly similar fashion. This paper argues that, due to structural and ideological constraints, both regimes took a fascist turn in their policies: As Chiang Kai-shek/ Jiang Jieshi (1887-1975) and Xi Jinping (born 1953) neither were willing to relinquish their party’s exclusive claim to political power nor to abandon their ideological persuasions (and after having exhausted pragmatic means of legitimising their rule), they began to make use of syncretic ideas and concepts that – in their entirety – only converge in fascism: The invocation of nationalistic, holistic, (pseudo)-palingenetic, and capitalist-socialist ideas promised popular support for their governments without having to (openly) surrender previously held ideological positions, and the accompanying emphasis on renewed party control and charismatic leadership served the purpose of consolidating their respective regime’s grip on power. However, while the GMD regime did concede fascist influences on its policies, the CCP regime has never acknowledged its own fascist turn.


Clemens Büttner is research fellow and lecturer in Sinology at Goethe University Frankfurt. He studied Sinology, Modern History, and Political Science in Erlangen, Shanghai, and Beijing. He obtained his PhD from Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen with a dissertation on the origins of Chinese warlordism. His current research focuses on Chinese nationalism.



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