The Chinese Communist Party’s Mikhail Gorbachev phobia


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There was a time when well-meaning, if not wishful-thinking, Westerners thought that “China’s Gorbachev” was the highest compliment they could pay a Chinese leader who looked like a reformer. However, when Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基), the straight-talking then-mayor of Shanghai, visited the US in July 1990, and some Americans called him that, the future premier was not amused. “I am not China’s Gorbachev,” Zhu reportedly snapped. “I am China’s Zhu Rongji.” We will never know what Zhu, widely admired for implementing key reforms in the 1990s and spearheading China’s successful efforts to join the WTO, really thought about Mikhail Gorbachev, the...