Red Capitalists in China: The Party, Private Entrepreneurs, and Prospects for Political Change

Red Capitalists in China: The Party, Private Entrepreneurs, and Prospects for Political Change

Red Capitalists in China: The Party, Private Entrepreneurs, and Prospects for Political Change

Red Capitalists in China: The Party, Private Entrepreneurs, and Prospects for Political Change

Synopsis

It has become a truism that continued economic reform in China will contribute to political change. Policy makers as well as many scholars expect that formation of a private sector will lead, directly or indirectly through the emergence of a civil society, to political change and ultimately democratization. The rapidly growing numbers of private entrepreneurs, the formation of business associations, and the cooperative relationships between entrepreneurs and local officials are seen as initial indicators of a transition from China's still nominally communist political system. This 2003 book focuses on two related issues: whether the Chinese Communist Party is willing and able to adapt to the economic environment its reforms are bringing about, and whether China's 'red capitalists', private entrepreneurs who also belong to the communist party, are likely to be agents of political change.

Excerpt

On July 1, 2001, the eightieth anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), party leader Jiang Zemin made a stunning proposal. He recommended that private entrepreneurs be allowed to join the ccp, ending a ban imposed in August 1989 immediately after the suppression of the Tiananmen demonstrations. He claimed they were a new social stratum making significant contributions to the country’s development and modernization, and the refore deserved a place in the ruling party. Since the key task of the party for more than two decades had been promoting economic growth, this seemed like an eminently logical proposal. the rapidly expanding private sector of the economy was the source of most new jobs and economic growth and absolutely necessary to the achievement of the party’s goals. From the perspective of the party’s orthodox leaders, however, there was nothing logical about Jiang’s proposal at all. What could be more incongruous than having millionaires in a party created to represent the interests of workers and peasants? While Jiang’s proposal made front-page news in the United States, where it was described as heralding yet another step away from communist rule, it also triggered a firestorm of acrimony by more orthodox party leaders. They accused Jiang, who was leader of the ccp, president of China, and the “core of the third generation of leaders,” of violating party discipline for making the recommendation without first gaining the approval of the party’s decision-making bodies, especially the Politburo and its Standing Committee. They claimed the proposal itself violated both the party constitution and its traditional principles. They called on the ccp to retract the proposal and rebuke Jiang’s reckless behavior. Otherwise, they warned, his proposal would spell the end of the ccp.

Why was so much attention, for and against, given to this proposal? Most observers expect that continued economic reform will ultimately lead to political change in China. Advocates of change, in China and abroad, promote economic reforms as a way of indirectly achieving other goals. They hope that . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.