For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

Whither China post #9 – Question 7 – So no democracy, no resilience; heavy challenges. Now what?

We looked at authoritarian resilience, modernization theory, the contrapositive to modernization theory, and threats to innovation, and came up short in two ways - on the need for a democratic transition and the inevitability of a growth slowdown without democracy.

This is not to say that high levels of growth can continue or that protests will cease. The question then turns to the current challenges in China – what is happening?  A version of Minxin Pei’s Trapped Transition is likely, although I think there are necessary updates to his view.  It is Mr. Xi who is leading China into a trap.

For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

Whither China post #8 – Question 6 – But how about innovation.  Can you have that without democracy?

 

Willy Lam and others maintain that internet restrictions and other CCP constraints are anathema to building an innovative economy.  China is impressive on technical hardware, as noted by Timothy Beardson in Stumbling Giant: The Threat to China's Future, but it lacks non-hierarchical scientific culture, a fertile institutional framework, and critical thinking for innovation.  My own view is that Beardson and even Willy Lam are coming at this question from a perspective too old to take account of China now, in the second and third decade of the century.  Can China innovate now?  One need not think about this for a moment to answer. 

For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

Whither China post #7 – Question 5 – Whither China's economic development with no democracy?

 

contrapositive modernization theory – if not q, then not p – if no democracy, then no future growth

Many observers make not only the first phase of the modernization argument – that with economic growth comes demand for democracy – but also the second phase, the contrapositive argument – if no democracy evolves, then growth will slow or stop. Despite the successes to date, the argument goes, there is a looming disaster, as modern economic growth, or demands of a service economy, or post-industrial growth, or the era of IT, or AI, is incompatible with CCP authoritarian governance. 

For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

Whither China post #6 – Question 4 - must China have democracy … or die?

the mantra – if p, then q

Democracy must come eventually.  Once China reaches middle income status, the huge middle class, 200 or 300 million strong, concerned about the future and kids and education and health care and the environment, will demand democracy.  Democracy may actually be on the arc of history.  Countries other than the oil states that have achieved high level GDP per person have developed some version of democracy – think Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, even Singapore. China is at middle income to upper middle income status now, the income range when the transition is supposed to take place, according to historical experience.  The next logical step for China is democracy. And without political reform, China will have (pick one or more) political revolt, growing crises of confidence, fissures within the Party. And without political reform and economic reform to further open the economy, future growth is in jeopardy.

For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

Whither China Post #5 - Question 3 - Does Xi have a plan … or even a solution?

The incurably optimistic saw wily manipulation in Xi’s moves.  He had to first clear away the obstacles to real reform.  With that accomplished, he could then open up the financial system, float the currency, open the economy to foreign service businesses, eliminate capital controls, and maybe … just maybe … move toward greater freedoms.

For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

 Whither China? post #3 - Question 1 - CCP authoritarian resilience … or not

In the early Hu Jintao years, it did seem as if CCP was impervious to assault.  Over the decades, it weathered murder of landlords in the early years, then the Great Famine, then the Cultural Revolution, then Tian’anmen, then cancelling of dozens of millions of jobs in the late 1990s, and environmental and tainted food and land theft mass protests every year since.  Authoritarian resilience is the term coined by Joseph Nye in 2003 for this tough stability.

But since the last years of the Hu administration, and now forcefully with Xi, resilience is not how observers see CCP, and most decidedly, not how CCP sees itself.

News Comments

  • Crash-out

    Crash-out.  Or D-Day - Disaster Day - minus 7

    The original D-Day was salvation for Britain and Europe - even, in its way, for Germany.  This one seems less promising.

    Not much to say anymore.   Cue the violins and watch the China moves.

    Read more ...  
  • Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

    Huawei - Taking a Fall, Hoping for a Call

     

    Pardon the soccer reference.  But to my mind, that is the Huawei move.  But Huawei has the support of the fans, at least in China, and they are vocal.

    Don Clarke, professor of law at George Washington University, has penned this response to the declaration of the Zhong Lun law firm in Beijing, in support of Huawei as an innocent private company caught in a nasty trade spat.  According to the declaration, no company in China is ever required to comply with demands from the central government to install spyware or backdoors in any communication equipment.   Clarke points out that this is misleading and inaccurate.  Chinese law says nothing about what provincial and local governments might demand from a company, and in any case, law is not a constraint. 

    “There’s a whole variety of pressures that the government can bring to bear on a company or individual, and they are not at all limited to criminal prosecution Clarke says.  “China is a Leninist state that does not recognize any limits to government power.”

    Read more ...  
  • What Chinese are talking about ... fake news

     
    What Chinese are talking about ... real fake news

    You know that China is increasing pressure on every state it can bully.  The bullying is easiest when the victim state has a substantial share of its GDP connected to China, whether as exports or as Chinese FDI coming in.  Now come fake news stories published in China, quoting New Zealand politicians approving of Chinese policies on the Belt and Road initiative.  New Zealand is in a tough spot.  Read more ...  

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