China’s Changing of the Guard: The New Inequality

Issue Date January 2003
Volume 14
Issue 1
Page Numbers 51-59
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The Chinese capitalism has caused significant social stratification, but failed to produce pro-democratic social classes. Worsening socioeconomic polarization has intensified class confrontation, pushing the new bourgeoisie and middle classes into the arms of authoritarian stability. The increasing dependence on the private sector for sustainable economic growth has compelled the communist state to align itself with the affluent classes in the escalating class warfare. The anti-democratic nature of this alignment has been strengthened by the pro-revolutionary disposition of the lower classes, the underclass in particular. As such, China is being trapped in a vicious circle in which political repressiveness and the revolutionary impulse in society reinforce each other to make a peaceful political opening difficult.

About the Author

An Chen, associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, was previously a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He received his doctorate from Yale University. He is the author of Restructuring Political Power in China: Alliances and Opposition, 1978-1998 (1999).

View all work by An Chen