Country: China

April 2019, Volume 30, Issue 2

30 Years After Tiananmen: Hong Kong Remembers

It was the impact of Tiananmen that made the democracy movement in Hong Kong a mass phenomenon. Today, the democratic cause in Hong Kong remains linked to the democratic cause in China as a whole.

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October 2018, Volume 29, Issue 4

Understanding Authoritarian Regionalism

Taking advantage of broad global respect for regionalism, authoritarian regimes are using their own regional organizations to bolster fellow autocracies. These groupings offer a mechanism for lending legitimacy, redistributing resources, and insulating members from democratic influences.

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

Liu Xiaobo (1955–2017)

On July 13, imprisoned Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer, after long being denied appropriate medical treatment. A well-known essayist and poet, he was arrested just after the Tiananmen Square massacre for his support of the protesters. After spending a year and a half in prison, he continued…

July 2017, Volume 28, Issue 3

China’s Disaffected Insiders

The CCP regime has lost support among three groups it should normally be able to count on: street-level police, retired military officers, and state employees who are drafted into stifling dissent on the part of their own relatives. 

October 2016, Volume 27, Issue 4

Transition in China? More Likely Than You Think

Evidence from social science and history suggests that China is entering a “transition zone” that will threaten its capacity to maintain both authoritarian rule and high levels of economic growth.

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July 2016, Volume 27, Issue 3

Xi Jinping’s Maoist Revival

Far from being a reformer, as some had hoped, President Xi Jinping has launched the most sweeping ideological campaign seen in China since Mao. Xi is mixing nationalism, Leninism, and Maoism in ways that he hopes will cement continued one-party Communist rule.

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April 2016, Volume 27, Issue 2

The Puzzle of the Chinese Middle Class

Seymour Martin Lipset argued that economic development would enlarge the middle class, and that the middle class would support democracy. To what extent will this general proposition prove true of China?

July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

China After the Reform Era

The post–post-Mao era has now begun. The reforms that brought economic growth and greater openness to China are being unwound, while an assertive new leader strikes off in a populist and nationalist direction.

January 2015, Volume 26, Issue 1

China’s Challenge

As China’s power grows, will it seek to remake the world in its authoritarian image? For now, China shows no such missionary impulse, but the ways in which it pursues its interests can still threaten the fate of democracy.

January 2015, Volume 26, Issue 1

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from a November 15 letter by the Hong Kong Federation of Students (who were among the leaders of the "Umbrella Revolution") to Chinese premier Li Keqiang, inviting him to visit Hong Kong. Excerpts from the 310-page campaign manifesto of former finance minister Ashraf Ghani, who was proclaimed Afghanistan’s new president on September 21 after lengthy negotiations and an audit of the June 14…

July 2014, Volume 25, Issue 3

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from the June 7 inaugural address of Ukraine's newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko. Excerpts from “My Ideals and the Career Path I Have Chosen,” an autobiographical essay by Ilham Tohti, a professor of economics at Beijing’s Minzu University who was arrested in January on charges of inciting separatism. Tohti, a Uyghur born in Xinjiang, is the founder of Uyghur Online, a website dedicated to fostering understanding between Uyghurs and Han…

October 2013, Volume 24, Issue 4

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from Russian anticorruption crusader and recent Moscow mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny's September 9 speech on Bolotnaya Square. Portions of presidential contender Nana Akufo-Addo's August 29 statement conceding Ghana's disputed 2012 presidential election to John Dramani Mahama, as well as excerpts from Mahama's televised address that same night.  Remarks by jailed Chinese human-rights activist Xu Zhiyong

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? Goodbye to Gradualism

China is heading toward a tipping point, with two likely scenarios for how a political opening will come about. Most Chinese intellectuals think that only gradualism—“slow and steady,” step-by-step reform—can offer China a safe and feasible path toward liberal democracy. But they are wrong. Instead of “taking it slow,” China should shun gradualism and opt…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Rising Cost of Stability

Although the Chinese Communist Party 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.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Turn Against Legal Reform

Over the past decade, Chinese authorities have turned against many of the legal reforms they themselves had enacted in the late 20th century. Lawyers have come under increased pressure. Political campaigns warning against rule-of-law norms have rippled through the courts. And central authorities have massively increased funding for extralegal institutions aimed at curtailing and suppressing…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Troubled Periphery

The response of the Chinese state (and of Chinese society at large) to the problems of the country’s periphery—Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, as well as hundreds of counties, prefectures, and townships in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and other areas—is piling more tension and misery upon the populations there, but it is not undermining state power.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? From “Fart People” to Citizens

In recent years, Chinese netizens have shown boundless creativity and ingenuity in expressing themselves despite government restrictions on online speech. Will new political discourse give birth to a new political identity? Are new forms of networked communication enhancing opportunities for social change and helping to move China toward a “threshold” for political transformation?

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January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

Two Essays on China’s Quest for Democracy

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, is best known for his eloquent and incisive essays. Two of them are featured here: “Can It Be That the Chinese People Deserve Only ‘Party-Led Democracy’?” and “Changing the Regime by Changing Society.”

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October 2010, Volume 21, Issue 4

The Upsurge of Religion in China

Religion in various forms is burgeoning in the PRC today, and the ruling Chinese Communist Party cannot decide what to make of it—or do about it.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Transitions to the Rule of Law

While we have witnessed many transitions to multiparty systems, it has proven much harder for countries to attain a genuine rule of law. We need to know more about the origins of the rule of law in order to promote it successfully today.

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July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: The Massacre’s Long Shadow

In the two decades since the Tiananmen massacre, China has enjoyed rapid economic growth and a measure of political stability. Recently, however, various forms of popular protest have been increasing. Do they represent a potentially serious threat to CCP rule?

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: A New Rights Consciousness?

Despite the suppression of the Tiananmen Uprising of 1989, popular protest in China has by all accounts escalated steadily over the ensuing two decades. These protests have spread to virtually every sector of Chinese society, prompting more than a few observers to proclaim the emergence of a “rising rights consciousness” that poses a protodemocratic challenge…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: The Labor Movement

The twenty years since 1989 have brought two major developments in worker activism. First, whereas workers were part of the mass uprising in the Tiananmen Movement, there is today hardly any sign of mobilization that transcends class or regional lines. Second, a long-term decline in worker power at the point of production is going on…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Rural Protest

Although China’s farmers did not play a large role in the 1989 protests, they have been quite contentious since. Rural unrest has been triggered in part by reforms and in part by savvy “peasant leaders” who quickly seize opportunities that appear. Recently, many protest leaders have concluded that tame forms of contention are ineffective and…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Middle-Class Mobilization

Some of the many China stories to attract attention recently have involved NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) protests by largely middle class crowds gathering to demand a greater say in urban development plans. This article argues that such protests a) are a significant addition to the already complex landscape of Chinese collective action (and signal…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Online Activism

Online activism is an integral part of the broader landscape of citizen activism in contemporary China. It assumes a variety of forms, from cultural and social activism to cyber-nationalism and online petitions and protests. Technological development and social transformation provide the basic structural conditions. A fledgling civil society of online communities and offline civic associations,…

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July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Authoritarian Impermanence

Like all contemporary nondemocratic systems, the Chinese system suffers from weak legitimacy at the level of regime type. The most likely form of transition for China remains the model of Tiananmen, when three elements came together: a robust plurality of disaffected citizens, a catalytic event, and a split in the leadership. Had China chosen the…

October 2007, Volume 18, Issue 4

The Quest for Self-Rule in Tibet

This article assesses the historical record and current practice to argue that a form of autonomy that is appropriately grounded in China’s Constitution and international human rights practice may offer a path out of the current dispute.

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July 2007, Volume 18, Issue 3

How Will China Democratize?

No one should underrate the will and skill that the ruling Chinese Communist Party will put into keeping its grip on power.

July 2003, Volume 14, Issue 3

Tibet: The Exiles’ Journey

Almost a half-century after being forced from their homeland, Tibetans abroad, led by the Dalai Lama, have democratized their institutions in hopes that they may one day form the basis for a free and self-governing Tibet.

January 1999, Volume 10, Issue 1

Taiwan Gets it Right

Review of The First Chinese Democracy: Political Life in the Republic of China on Taiwan by Chao, Linda and Myers, Ramon H.

Winter 1990, Volume 1, Issue 1

Tiananmen and Beyond: After the Massacre

The following text is based upon remarks presented by Wuer Kaixi in Washington, D.C. on 2 August 1989 at a meeting cosponsored by the Congressional Human Rights Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Winter 1990, Volume 1, Issue 1

Tiananmen and Beyond: The Resurgence of Civil Society in China

The remarkable events of April and May 1989 revealed the degree to which civil society has reemerged in Communist China. The ruthless campaign of suppression that began on June 4 revealed in turn the degree to which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains unwilling and unable to accept the reality of nascent civil society in…

Winter 1990, Volume 1, Issue 1

Tiananmen and Beyond: Peering Over the Great Wall

Our goal at present is the thorough modernization of China. We all have a compelling sense of the need for this. There is a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction with the status quo among people in all walks of life.