Zhang Lifan on the Four Confidences

by Gloria Davies

On 21 October 2017, the Beijing-based social commentator and historian Zhang Lifan 章立凡 posted the following tweet, referring to a line from Xi Jinping’s speech of 6 February 2013, delivered at a meeting to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Beijing.

The Four Confidences? First came the decree: ‘We must be able to take sharp criticism.’ But no sooner had I made a few critical remarks this time, the authorities promptly sent someone to my door to issue a warning. If they were genuinely confident in their system, its path, theory and culture, would they have done this? A regime that permits only eulogies and is intolerant of criticism will find it difficult to avoid repeating the mistakes of its predecessor.

四个自信?当初有旨:“要容得下尖锐批评”。这回老夫随口点评了几句,有司立马派员上门警告。若真有制度自信、道路自信、理论自信、文化自信,何至于此?只许歌颂不容批评的政权,难免重蹈前朝覆辙 。