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The White Paper Revolution


Xi Jinping regularly warns of the potential for unpredictable “black swan” events in China’s near future. He mentions it so frequently that it’s obvious he enjoys using the phrase. On September 5, 2021, an actual black Swan was born. flew into Tiananmen Square was a place where superstitious people felt uneasy. There it was, eschewing grass and water in favour of stark symbolism, strutting for cameras on the very site of the proclamation of the People’s Republic, seven decades prior. What does it all mean?

Chinese history is full of omens, and portents. An earthquake in Tangshan killed 300,000. This was the prelude to Mao Zedong’s death. After the death of Deng, Xiaoping, there was a total eclipse in some parts of northern China. As the Tiananmen square protest movement was gaining momentum, a comet appeared to be streaking through space above the Forbidden Town on May 13th 1989. The sight was interpreted as a warning sign for disaster by some students, but it also signified the end of an era. In the light of recent events, we might imagine that Tiananmen’s black swan was a mistaken harbinger, accidentally dispatched a whole year early.

It would be hard to overstate the significance of the “White Paper Revolution” of November–December…

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