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Part of the book series: Comparative Government and Politics ((CGP))

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Some years ago, I was in a jeep driving down a mountain road in rural Sichuan and was held up by a long queue of traffic meandering down the hill to a new bridge that was being dedicated. Getting out of the jeep I wandered down to the bridge to witness an elaborate ceremony complete with the lighting of incense and various actions to ward off evil spirits. Somewhat facetiously, I began to ask those waiting what the Communist Party must think about this ceremony as it clearly represented an example of ‘superstitious practice’ so soundly denounced during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and still denounced today, albeit with less severity. I was greeted with puzzled faces before one person replied that the man in the exotic robes leading the ceremony was the party secretary. As the most important person in the village, he had no choice but to dedicate a new bridge that would link it to the world outside and bring greater wealth.

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© 2001 Tony Saich

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Saich, T. (2001). Introduction. In: Governance and Politics of China. Comparative Government and Politics. Palgrave, London.

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