Much Ado About Nothing: Party Reform in the 1980s

  • Tony Saich
Part of the Studies on the Chinese Economy book series (STCE)


The student demonstrations that took place in April–May 1989 and their brutal suppression in June, exposed in tragic fashion the central problem of the reform movement during the eighties. Key ccp leaders have taken the un-Marxist position that economic reform can be isolated from the consequent pressures for political change. There has been a consistent refusal by China’s top leaders to come to terms with the processes of change which their own economic reform programme had set in motion. Indeed the whole question of political reform became a major issue of division. However, as the ccp prepared to end its fourth decade in power, it had become increasingly clear to some leaders, including the then General Secretary, Zhao Ziyang, that a major shake-up of the Party’s organisational structure and a re-think of its role were necessary. Without such a shake-up, the economic reforms would slide further into trouble. At the Thirteenth Party Congress (1987), Zhao presented a series of proposals that tried to deal with the key issue of the Party’s role in society, to define more precisely the relationship between the ccp and the state sector and to limit the role of the Party in the work-place. These issues together with reforms of internal Party organisation are dealt with in the following.1


Economic Reform Central Committee Political Reform Party Member Party Committee 
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Copyright information

© Gordon White 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tony Saich

There are no affiliations available

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