Beijing Spring, 1989: Confrontation and Conflict: the Basic Documents

By Michel Oksenberg; Lawrence R. Sullivan et al. | Go to book overview

7
Deng Xiaoping on Neo-Authoritarianism

Source: Zhongguo Tongxun She ( China news organization) ( Hong Kong) ( April 7, 1989); FBIS, April 7, p. 15.

It is known that the controversial theory of neo-authoritarianism on the mainland has recently been noticed by CPC leader Deng Xiaoping. This 85-year-old statesman held that the modernization process in a backward country needs strongman politics with authority rather than Western-style democracy as a driving force.

According to sources concerned, since the debate on neo-authoritarianism developed in the mainland press last January, scholars have been continuously discussing this issue which has a bearing on the orientation of China's political structural reform. In late February, the influential Beijing Young Economists' Association and the China Economic Structural Reform Research Institute, when mentioning China's political reform, explicitly announced in the "Summary of the Symposium on the National Economic Situation" that "China needs an authoritative supreme leading group which can rally the social elite and the nation in this complicated environment to firmly and rhythmically advance this historic reform." Today, the debate has attracted attention from the top CPC leadership.

According to informed sources here, on March 6, when talking about work arrangements, Zhao Ziyang told Deng Xiaoping that there is a theory about neo-authoritarianism in foreign countries, and that domestic theoretical circles are now discussing this theory. The main point of this theory is that there should be a certain stage in the modernization process of a backward country wherein the driving force should come from strongman politics with authority and Western-style democracy should not be adopted.

Deng Xiaoping then said: This is also my idea. However, Deng Xiaoping had reservations about the term neo-authoritarianism. He said that the specific word for this notion can be reconsidered.

It is learned that the rumor about Deng Xiaoping's support for the theory of

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