China’s Political Trajectory: Internal Contradictions and Inner-Party Democracy

  • Cheng Li


The year 2000 marks the thirtieth anniversary of China’s policy of “reform and opening,” which was initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978. Over the course of the past three decades, China’s meteoric economic growth, profound societal transformations, and multifaceted integration with the outside world have been widely recognized by both policymakers and the general public in the United States. Yet, the American China studies community seems to have been struck by a prolonged and peculiar sort of political blindness. The early signs of Chinese political experiments, such as genuine local elections and regional representation at the national leadership, have largely been overlooked.1 Some important socio-political forces unleashed by the country’s transition toward a market economy, including the emergence of an entrepreneurial class and a middle class, are commonly perceived as factors that are more likely to consolidate the existing authoritarian political system than to challenge it (Dickson 2003). The prevailing view in the United States is that, despite the economic dynamism exhibited by present-day China, the governing regime is still Communist in nature and is, thus, resistant to significant political change (Mann 2007, Pei 2006, Nathan 2003, 2006).


Migrant Worker Chinese Communist Party Chinese Leader Land Lease Chinese Political System 
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© Eva Paus, Penelope B. Prime, and Jon Western 2009

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  • Cheng Li

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