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?
Volume 20, Issue 3
China Since Tiananmen
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…
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…
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…
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…
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,…
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…
After a nearly two-year interlude of authoritarian rule, Bangladeshis voted decisively for democracy, a secular approach to politics, and the center-left. The challenge now is to show that parliamentary democracy can deliver stability and socioeconomic progress.
The Scottish National Party proposes to free Scotland from its supposed tutelage to London, but betrays habits of political centralism and elitism that raise questions about the quality of democracy an independent Scotland would enjoy.
In March 2008, Malaysian voters dealt the long-ruling National Front coalition an enormous shock—pushing that party closer to losing power than it has ever been in Malaysia’s entire history as an independent country.
Democratization by Elections?
Evidence suggests that under some circumstances repeated elections, even if flawed, can lead to democratization.
Since 1996, eight postcommunist authoritarian rulers have been ousted by “electoral revolutions.” Why have these not succeeded in other postcommunist countries?
Due to weak opposition parties and presidential dominance, many African countries have not reaped the full benefits of regularly held elections.
Legislative elections in the Middle East often become contests over patronage and wind up reinforcing authoritarian regimes.
In April 2008, disputed election results in the tiny state of Moldova sparked violent protests and a harsh response from state authorities.
In March 2009, El Salvador saw its first peaceful alternation of power since independence, as the FMLN, a former guerilla movement that laid down its arms in 1992, finally won the presidency.
Despite increasing authoritarian tendencies at the national level, there are signs that Nicaragua has been making democratic advances at the local level.
A review of Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention by Gary J. Bass.
Reports on recent elections in Algeria, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Maldives, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Panama, Slovakia, and South Africa.
Excerpts from remarks made on March 11 by Xu Youyu, a Charter 08 signatory, as he accepted the People in Need foundation's annual Homo Homini Award on behalf of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a leading figure behind Charter 08. Portions of the African Union's March 20 decision on the forced resignation of Madagascar's President…