From Tiananmen to Neo-Stalinism

Issue Date January 2020
Volume 31
Issue 1
Page Numbers 148-157
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China’s reversion to hard authoritarianism is no aberration. The development strategy formulated by Deng Xiaoping to modernize the Chinese economy under one-party rule generated endemic corruption and regime decay, but failed to institute genuine and enforceable political reforms that would prevent the return of a Mao-like figure. China’s great leap backward since 2012 may dim the hopes of gradual evolutionary regime transition, but the pitfalls of strongman rule, dissipating economic dynamism under state capitalism, and escalating strategic competition with the United States will most likely reduce the long-term odds of the survival of the Chinese Communist Party.