China’s Reforms: Risky Road Ahead

How will China’s economy, its political system, and its society interact in the wake of new reforms — in harmony or with increasing friction?

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made a  decision to make market mechanisms “decisive” in the economy. The primary aim of such reforms, of course, is to prolong party rule. Since crushing the citizen and student movements of the 1980s — culminating in the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square — the CCP has depended on economic growth to ensure stability.

The reform could dislocate large swaths of society, including migrant laborers, university graduates, and disgruntled civil servants. Government control of the economy has been a central pillar of its political authority; liberalizing China’s volatile market will require the party to walk a thin and perilous line.

Instead of preparing the state for a potential confrontation with society, Beijing should contemplate an alternative route. To placate the public, the government must draw its critics out from the shadows and into a public debate about rebalancing the economy and the role of monetary success in Chinese society. Ultimately, this path may prove more successful in securing a stable, prosperous, and harmonious Chinese society than Xi’s neo-authoritarianism ever could.

Read the complete story here: China’s Risky Reforms, Foreign Affairs

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