Chinese leadership appears "less unpredictable and more collective after Mao's death," Ross B. Terrill, associate professor of Government and author of several books on China, said last night during an informal talk at the Quincy House government table.
"Trying to have Premier Hua Kuo-feng replace Mao and fill the political gap left by his death is treating a string like a rope," Terrill said. "There is nobody with the authority to zig and zag as Mao did in the last 15 years of his life," he added.
With the purge of the "gang of four" in 1976, the military returned to the center of politics, and public opinion began to emerge as an "institutional force," Terrill said. "There was a snapping of certain rhetorical myths and a concretization of wishes for a better standard of living in 1976."
Terrill said a new political and social vocabulary in China is necessary. "The revolution was a class struggle, but with victory, a new class system emerges. The problem is that all variations from the norm are discussed in terms of class struggle. If you lag at the factory or commit adultery, you're called a bourgeois."
Terrill, who was denied tenure by the Government Department last year, will be leaving Harvard after this semester. He plans to remain in Cambridge and has applied to change his citizenship from Australian to American.
His latest book, "The Future of China," will be published by Dell this June.