Is China's Communist Party Doomed?
Image Credit: Wikicommons

Is China's Communist Party Doomed?

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Last Friday’s announcement in Beijing that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will convene its 18th congress on November 8 has brought much relief to those concerned that political scandals and power struggle at the very top of the Chinese government have derailed the once-in-a-decade leadership transition.  Finally, the party’s top leaders seemed to have agreed on what to do with the disgraced former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai (likely off to jail) and on whom to promote to the Politburo and its more powerful standing committee.

For all the obvious reasons, China’s ruling elites will do their best in the next few months to project an image of unity and self-confidence, and to convince the rest of the world that the next generation of leaders is capable of maintaining the party’s political monopoly.

That is, unfortunately, a tough sell.  Confidence in the party’s internal cohesion and leadership has already been shaken by the Bo affair, endemic corruption, stagnation of reform in the last decade, a slowing economy, deteriorating relations with neighbors and the United States, and growing social unrest.  The questions on many people’s minds these days are how long the party can hold on to its power and whether the party can manage a democratic transition to save itself.

These questions are by no means the products of idle minds.  By many measures, the party’s rule is about to enter a decade of systemic crisis.  Having governed China for 63 years, the party is approaching, within a decade, the recorded longevity of the world’s most durable one-party regimes — the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union (74 years), the Kuomintang (73), and the Revolutionary Institutional Party of Mexico (71).   Like a human being, an organization such as the CCP also ages.

In addition, China’s rapid economic development has thrust the country past what is commonly known as the “democratic transition zone” — a range of per capita income between $1000 and $6000 (in purchasing power parity, PPP).  Political scientists have observed that autocratic regimes face increasing odds of regime change as income rises.  Chances of maintaining autocracy decrease further once a country’s per capita income exceeds $6000 (PPP).  China’s has already reached $8500 (PPP).  And nearly all the autocracies in the world with a higher per capita income are petro-states.  So China is in an socioeconomic environment in which autocratic governance becomes increasingly illegitimate and untenable.  Anyone who is unconvinced of this point should take a look at Chinese Weibo (or microblogs) to get a sense of what ordinary Chinese think of their government.

Thus, the answer to the question of the durability of one-party rule in China is clear: its prospects are doomed.

Comments
105
Jacob
April 23, 2013 at 02:07

There is no possible way that the Chinese Communist Party will lose power. The communist party is way too strong. Over 80,000,000 people are in the communist party. My father was born in China, and he tells me all of this. I don’t read it off the Internet, I ask my father.

Stan Lippmann
January 29, 2013 at 11:47

Just an example of how ridiculous all this China-bashing is:  thediplomat.com is accessible here in China.  As for Taiwan, the US is breaking its 1982 to stop arming Taiwan.  And the ins than the Americans.  It's really all over for the dumb down Americans.  That's why Chinese immigrants like it so much, because it's easy to compete with the stupid Americans, especially when you can easieasier to live in America if you are first generation.  You are barely culturally literate so you are blind to the failings of America. The reverse may be true for an American in China.  But there are objective realities which must come into play. China has been around for a long time (40,000 years?).  During this time, the fools have been more weeded out, so the average intelligence is 10 points higher that that of Westerners.  Meanwhile, there is a conscious plot in the west to dumb people down to the level of the Africans, 20 points below normal, to turn the Westerners into slaves.  There is an expanding gap in mathematics.  The Americans are going to drop the standards two full grade levels so that the semi-retarded black kids can graduate from high school.  The Chinese are already starting to produce more scientific publications than the Americans.  It's really all over for the dumb down Americans.  That's why Chinese immigrants like it so much, because it's easy to compete with the stupid Americans, especially when you can easily ignore the cultural problems.  Also, your egos can't admit that you are just picking over the bones of America like vultures, and deeper in your mind you know you can always jump ship and go back to China.  For the first time, most Chinese college students are returning to China, since they can see the writing on the wall.

Stan Lippmann
January 28, 2013 at 22:25

Yeah, but there is a market for China-bashing.  He makes a nice living at it as a college professor.  After moving from Seattle to Beijing 4 months ago, I definitely agree that a one party system is much better than a two party system.  It de-politicizes daily life, so something is being accomplished, like new subway lines, high speed rail, gas lines, power lines, power plants, nuclear plants, solar farms, wind farms, hydropower, better pollution control, functional educational, general contentedness, lack of ethnic problems, lack of race and gender politics, 10% tax rate instead of slavery-like 40% take rate, balanced budget, no $100 trillion dollar unfunded liabilities (yet).

Aaron
November 16, 2012 at 01:57

Sounds pretty fascist to me.
Soviet Russia had central planning, remember, and it went bust. Kind of blows your argument out of the water.
Don't forget American prosperity soared back in the day when liberty was real and the government didn't control every facet of the economy.
In the years before the military-industrial complex took over (pre-1950's) nothing could stop the juggernaut that was the American economy, founded on one unfettered philosophy: free enterprise.
What's required to prosper America is a return to that, not introduce more control, more central planning.
 

Aaron
November 16, 2012 at 01:50

The only difference between China's government and that of the US or other major western powers is that their autocracy is more apparent.
The US is essentially a plutocracy where uber-weathy power brokers sponsor and own all the political players in a race. They care not who wins an election – either way "their man" gets in. The Republican-Democrat facade is the best thing going for American autocracy. Fool the people into believing they have a choice when in reality, both major parties draw upon the same pool of advisors and financiers and on issues of real importance in the big picture they are nearly identical in those policies which are implemented. Foreign policy is nearly identical in both Republican and Democrat administrations. Sure, the rhetoric changes, but the actual decisions and actions made by administrations differ very little from one to the next. Foreign policy, especially military policy barely missed a beat in the Bush to Obama transition, and yet the American people were wholeheartedly fooled into believing they actually were getting change, which is the mechanism by which this puppet-show autocracy sustains a perpetual repression of dissent.
So, if the communist party of China "falls" it will only be to metamorphisize into a more "sustainable model", rule by an inner circle of plutocratic elite by proxy of a ficticious democratic process in in the minds of the masses, which is exactly what the US has had for decades.
 
 

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