China at the Tipping Point? The Rising Cost of Stability

Issue Date January 2013
Volume 24
Issue 1
Page Numbers 57-64
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This essay examines the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s strategies for maintaining social stability. Although the CCP has tried to institutionalize the political system in the reform era, such efforts have been hampered by the Maoist legacy. To cope with challenges from the society, the CCP mainly relies on a highly centralized and resource-intensive weiwen system, and shows little respect for institutional differentiation and formal procedures. While such strategies are sometimes effective in the short term, they are not sustainable in the long run. They not only are extremely costly, but also tend to generate illegitimate state force and encourage ordinary people to engage in unruly behaviors.