Skip to main content

The Growth of Intra-party Democracy and Its Implications for China’s Democratic Future


During the past decades, while the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued to consolidate its political leadership and refused to tolerate any opposition parties, intra-party democracy has been emphasized repeatedly and expanded vigorously by Chinese Communist leaders as an alternative to electoral democracy or liberal democracy characterized by multiparty competition. Various democratic experiments have been conducted and many democratic elements introduced at all levels in the CCP. Although the growth of intra-party democracy is limited, these great efforts and achievements have profound implications for China’s democratic future. The growth of intra-party democracy not only reflects the CCP’s continuous efforts to institutionalize the rules of elite politics and fight against widespread corruption, but might also provide a good approach for political transition to democracy with Chinese characteristics in the future.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Benshubianxiezu, 2004. Zhonggong Zhongyang Guanyu Jiaqiang Dang De Zhizheng Nengli Jianshe De Jueding Fudao Duben. Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bergsten, C. Fred, et al. 2009. China’s rise: Challenges and opportunities. Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics and Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chen, Xuewei, and Chen Shu (ed.) 2003. Shisanjie Sizhongquanhui Yilai Zhongda Shijian He Juece Diaocha (An Investigation into Major Issues and Decision-Making since the Fourth Plenum of the 13th Central Committee). Zhonggong Zhongyang Dangxiao Chubanshe (The CCP Central Party School Press).

  • Cheng, Zhili (ed.). 1991. Zhongguo Gongchandang Jianshe Shi (History of the Communist Party-Building of China). Shanghai: Renmin Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cheng, Wangao. 2009. Zhengfu Xinxi Ziyuan Kaifa Liyong (Development and Utilization of Government Information Resource). Beijing: Kexue Chubanshe (Science Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Deng, Xiaoping. 1994a. Selected works of Deng Xiaoping, vol. 1. Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Deng, Xiaoping. 1994b. Selected works of Deng Xiaoping, vol. 2. Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, Larry. 1999. Developing democracy: Toward consolidation. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, Larry. 2008. The spirit of democracy: The struggle to build free societies throughout the world. New York: Times Books, Henry Holt and Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duverger, Maurice. 1954. Political parties: Their organization and activity in the modern state. London: Methuen & Co., Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fewsmith, Joseph. 2008. China since Tiananmen, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Gao, Fang. 2006. Zhengguo Zhengzhi Tizhi Gaige De Xinsheng (Appeal for Political Structural Reforms in China), Chongqing Chubanshe.

  • Guo, Dingping. 1998. Zhengdang Yu Zhengfu (Political Party and Government). Hangzhou: Zhejiang Renmin Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harding, Harry. 1997. The Chinese State in Crisis 1966–1969. In The politics of China: The Eras of Mao and Deng, 2nd ed. Roderick MacFaquhar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • He, Zengke, et al. 2004. Zhongguo Zhengzhi Tizhi Gaige Yanjiu (Studies of Political Institutional Reforms in China). Zhongyang Bianyi Chubanshe (Central Compilations & Translations Press).

  • He, Zengke. 2004. Minzhuhua: Zhengzhi Fazhan De Zhongguo Daolu (Democratization: Chinese Road of Political Development). Zhonggong Tianjin Shiwei Dangxiao Xuebao (Journal of Tianjin Party School) 2.

  • He, Yizhong. 2011. Jinnianlai Dangnei Minzhu Yanjiu Zhong De Jige Zhenglun Wenti Shuping (Reviewing Some Contending Views regarding the Recent Studies of Intra-Party Democracy). Makesi Zhuyi Yu Xianshi (Marxism and Reality) 1.

  • Heidar, Knut. 2006. Party membership and participation. In Handbook of party politics, ed. Richards S. Katz and William Crotty. London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huang, Jing. 2008. Institutionalization of political succession in China: Progress and implications. In China’s changing landscape: Prospects for democracy, ed. Cheng Li. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hu, Jintao. 2012. Firmly March on the Path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive to Complete the Building of a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects—Report to the Eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China on November 8, 2012.

  • Hu, Wei. 1999. Dangnei Minzhu Yu Zhengzhi Fazhan—Kaifa Zhongguo Minzhuhua De Tizhinei Ziyuan (Intra-Party Democracy and Political Development—Exploiting Resources for Democratization within the Establishment in China). Fudan Xuebao (Fudan Journal of Social Sciences) 1.

  • Hu, Wei. 2010. Minzhu Zhengzhi Fazhan De Zhongguo Daolu: Dangnei Minzhu Moshi De Xuanze (Chinese Road of Democratic Development: Model of Intra-Party Democracy). Kexue Shehui Zhuyi (Scientific Socialism) 1.

  • Hu, Wei. 2011. Zhizhengdang Minzhu Jianshe De Yicheng: Kexue Jiandang De Xinshiyu (Agenda of Democratic Construction for the Ruling Party: A New Perspective of Scientific Party-Building). Tansuo Yu Zhengming (Exploration and Free Views), December, 266.

  • Huntington, Samuel P. 1991. The third wave: Democratization in the late twentieth century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lai, Hongyi. 2008. Intra-party democracy in China: The first step in a long march. In East Asian Democracy and Political Changes in China: A New Goose Flying, ed. Zhengxu Wang and Colin Durkop. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

  • LeDuc, Lawrence. 2001. Democratizing Party Leadership Selection. Party Politics. 7(3).

  • LeDuc, Lawrence, Richard G. Niemi, and Pippa Norris (eds.). 2010. Comparing Democracies 3. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lin, Shangli. 2010. Dangnei Minzhu: Gaige Kaifang Yilai De Tansuo Yu Shijian (Intra-party Democracy: Explorations and Practices during the Reform and Opening Period). In Dangnei Minzhu (Inner-Party Democracy), ed. Jain Gao and Dezhi Tong. Tianjin: Renmin Chubanshe.

  • Liu, Jianfei. 2011a. Democracy and China. Beijing: New World Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Liu, Jie. 2011b. Zhongguo Zhengzhi Fazhan Jincheng 2011 Nian (The Process of China’s Political Development 2011 Year). Beijing: Shishi Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Liu, Jie. 2010. Zhongguo Zhengzhi Fazhan Jincheng 2010 Nian (The Process of China’s Political Development 2010 Year). Beijing: Shishi Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Liu, Shaoqi. 1985. Selected works of Liu Shaoqi, vol. 2. Beijing: Remin Chubanshe.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mair, Peter (ed.). 1990. The West European Party System (Oxford Readings in Politics and Government). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Michels, Robert. 1949. Political parties: A sociological study of the oligarchical tendencies of modern democracy. Glencoe: The Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norris, Pippa. 2006. Recruitment. In Handbook of party politics, ed. Richards S. Katz and William Crotty. London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ouyang, Song. 2011. Dang De Jianshe Lungao (Essays on Party-building). Beijing: Dangjian Duwu Chubanshe (Party-building Readings Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Pennings, Paul, and Reuven Y. Hazan. 2001. Democratizing candidate selection. Party Politics 7(3).

  • Renmin Ribao. 2010. Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily), October 9, 1.

  • Sachsenroder, Wolfgang. 1998. Party politics and democratic development in East and Southeast Asia. In Political party systems and democratic development in East and Southeast Asia, vol. 2, ed. Wolfgang Sachsenroder and Ulrike E. Frings. East Asia: Ashgate Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shambaugh, David. 2008. China’s communist party: Atrophy and adaptation. New York: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shirk, Susan L. 1993. The political logic of economic reform in China. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Changjiang (ed.). 2007. Dangnei Minzhu Zhidu Chuangxin (Institutional Innovations of Inner-Party Democracy of CCP). Beijing: Zhongyang Bianyi Chubanshe (Central Compilation & Translation Press).

  • Wang, Huning. 1993. Gouzhu Zhongguo Teyou De Zhengzhi Tixi Moshi (Constructing the Model of Political System with Chinese Characteristics). Zhongguo Zhengfu Yu Zhengzhi (Chinese Government and Politics), ed. Mingzheng Gao. Jinan: Huanghe Chubanshe (Yellow River Press).

  • Wang, Yicheng. 2010. Dui Fazhan Dangnei Minzhu Wenti De Ruogan Sikao (Some Considerations on the Development of Intra-Party Democracy). Dangnei Minzhu (Inner-Party Democracy), ed. Jian Gao and Dezhi Tong. Tianjin: Renmin Chubanshe.

  • Xinhua. 2007.

  • Xinhua. 2012.

  • Xinhua. 2013.

  • Zhao, Ziyang. 2009. Gaige Licheng (The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang). Hong Kong: Xin Shiji Chubanshe (New Century Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Zheng, Changzhong. 2005. Zhongguo Gongchandang Dangnei Minzhu Zhudu Chuangxin (Institutional Innovations of Intra-Party Democracy in the CCP). Tianjin: Renmin Chubanshe (Tianjin People’s Press).

  • Zhonggong Zhongyang Dangshi Yanjiushi (Historical Research Institute of the CCP). 2011. Zhongguo Gongchandang Lishi (The History of the CCP), Volume 2 (1949–1978). Beijing: Zhonggong Dangshi Chubanshe (The CCP History Press).

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dingping Guo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Guo, D. The Growth of Intra-party Democracy and Its Implications for China’s Democratic Future. Fudan J. Hum. Soc. Sci. 7, 1–19 (2014).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Intra-party democracy
  • Political development
  • Democratization
  • Party-state
  • CCP