China’s Changing of the Guard: The Problem of State Weakness

Issue Date January 2003
Volume 14
Issue 1
Page Numbers 36-42
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While most of those who advocate political reform in China focus their attention overwhelmingly on how to restrain state power from becoming too intrusive, this essay puts forward an alternative strategy of political reform—democratic state building. It starts with a belief that the presence of an effective state is a prerequisite for democracy. However, it finds that China is currently suffering from a severe governance crisis. Given the circumstances, it would be suicidal for the country to undermine or weaken its state institutions in the name of pursuing democracy. Rather, democratic reformers should make efforts to strengthen state capacities in the course of democratization.

About the Author

Shaoguang Wang is a professor of political science at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has authored or coauthored more than a dozen books, including Failure of Charisma: The Chinese Cultural Revolution in Wuhan (1995), The Political Economy of Uneven Development: The Case of China (1999), and The Chinese Economy in Crisis: State Capacity and Tax Reform (Studies on Contemporary China) (2001).

View all work by Shaoguang Wang