Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The downfall of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has given rise to a crucial debate in China, the last major bastion of communist countries in the world. The debate, which places advocates of thorough economic reform against those who wish to preserve the present communist system, has ended in a tacit agreement between them that the Chinese regime should continue with economic reform if the regime is to survive in power. This policy raises the prospect of the link between China's post-Mao reforms and the democratization of the nation, following the logic which holds that as an economy grows rapidly, a stable democracy is likely to emerge and consolidate. It is, however, apparent that economic development cannot alone determine the prospects for democratization. The case of china demonstrates that while economic activities have increased, the limited political liberalization that took place during the early and mid-1980s has not progressed any further; the authoritarian natrire of China's political system has even been strengthened. Therefore, the analysis needs to be expanded to other variables in order to help explain what has been happening in China. It is argued that due to socioeconomic development, China's political culture and eliie politics, the process of political change in China tends to follow the evolutionary authoritarian route wnicn involves a dual transition. The first phase of the transition, which has been under way since the late 1970s' involves a transformation from a politically and economically closed communist regime to an authoritarian regime with a market-oriented economy. This process will continue in the short to medium term after Deng's death. The second phase will see the transformation of the present authoritarian regime into a democratic government based on a market economy. The preconditions for China's departure from communism to democracy will be the spread of economic prosperity, changes in the political culture, and the emergence of new political elites, most likely the fifth or sixth generation of rulers who wiil show less aversion to the idea of democratization and put up less resistance to democratizing pressures from below.
Pradnyawati, "China's Post-Mao Reforms and the Prospects for Democratization" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6954.
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