While China's economic rise is being watched closely around the world, the country's changing political landscape is intriguing, as well. Forces unleashed by market reforms are profoundly recasting state-society relations. Will the Middle Kingdom transition rapidly, slowly, or not at all to political democracy? In China's Changing Political Landscape, leading experts examine the prospects for democracy in the world's most populous nation.
China's political transformation is unlikely to follow a linear path. Possible scenarios include development of democracy as we understand it; democracy with more clearly Chinese characteristics; mounting regime instability due to political and socioeconomic crises; and a modified authoritarianism, perhaps modeled on other Asian examples such as Singapore. Which road China ultimately takes will depend on the interplay of socioeconomic forces, institutional developments, leadership succession, and demographic trends.
Cheng Li and his colleagues break down a number of issues in Chinese domestic politics, including changing leadership dynamics; the rise of business elites; increased demand for the rule of law; and shifting civil-military relations. Although the contributors clash on many issues, they do agree on one thing: the political trajectory of this economic powerhouse will have profound implications, not only for 1.3 billion Chinese people, but also for the world as a whole.