The Democratization of China

The Democratization of China

The Democratization of China

The Democratization of China


The events of 1989, culminating in the Tiananmen Square massacre, highlighted the extent to which democratic ideals had taken root in China. This book traces and evaluates the political discourse of democracy in contemporary China.


In the late 1970s, as China’s reform era opened, the Communist Party of China committed itself to first doubling and then redoubling the aggregate size of the economy of the People’s Republic of China by the end of the millennium. At the time and into the early and mid-1980s, it was a prospect greeted as a desirable aspiration by most academic observers of China, but as little more. Many economists in particular pointed out the difficulties in the project and the near impossibility of its achievements. in the event, the target was attained with almost five years to spare, some time in 1995.

The rapid growth of China’s economy is a useful starting-point for this series, China in Transition, intellectually as well as chronologically. It is not only that China has developed so spectacularly so quickly, nor that in the process its experience has proved some economists to be too cautious. Rather, its importance is to demonstrate the need for explanatory theories of social and economic change to themselves adapt and change as they encompass the processes underway in China. There is some possibility that the reform era in China will significantly alter the boundaries of the rest of the world’s understanding not only of change in China, but also of the processes of modernization more generally.

China in Transition aims to participate in these intellectual developments through its focus on social, political, economic and cultural change in the China of the 1990s and beyond. Its aim is to draw on new, often cross disci-plinary research from scholars in East Asia, Australasia, North America and Europe, as well as that based in the more traditional disciplines. in the process the series will not only interpret the consequences of reform in China, but also monitor and reflect the changes of the future.

Baogang He’s study of democratic ideas and intellectual trends in contemporary China—The Democratization of China—is the first volume to appear in the series. Unlike many commentators on contemporary China, Baogang He takes the democratic project seriously, and in the process makes a case for the relevance of liberal-democratic ideas and values. He examines recent mainstream conceptualizations of democracy in China in order to develop an appropriate, and appropriately Chinese, liberal conception of democracy.

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