CHINA AND THE LEGACY OF DENG XIAOPING: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution

Article excerpt

CHINA AND THE LEGACY OF DENG XIAOPING: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Michael E. Marti, Brassey's Inc., Dulles, VA, 2002, 263 pages, $27.95.

China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution is a succinct treatment of Chinese political maneuvering in the early 1990s. Indeed, the book is one of the most comprehensive narratives of the intricacies of factional politics of that time. The book is also a masterful reconstruction of the internal politics of the Chinese Communist Party and probably the best account we will have until appropriate documents are smuggled out or Party archives are opened to foreign researchers. That said, one must also ask, "So what?"

Michael E. Marti posits that when Deng Xiaoping returned to power in 1978 his goal was to make China a modern economic power by the middle of the 21st century. Marti theorizes that after retirement Deng realized the entire plan was in danger of becoming undone when the Party reasserted its power after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Deng marshaled his forces for a counterattack to secure economic change.

A "grand compromise" between the Central Party's administration, provincial governments, and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) ensured fiscal health, economic prosperity, and military modernization. Marti makes this point quite clearly and claims he is the first to have worked this out. He also states it was never Deng's intention to liberalize China's political system. All this is true, but most scholars recognized the latter point after the 1979 suppression of the Democracy Wall Movement. The links between military modernization and the PLA's continued support for economic reform became evident in the 1990s, although few before Marti were able to put this support in its proper context. …