China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead

China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead

China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead

China's Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead


The end of communist rule in China will be one of the most momentous events of the twenty-first century, sounding the death knell for the Marxist-Leninist experiment and changing the lives of a fifth of humanity. This book provides a likely blow-by-blow account of how the Chinese Communist Party will be removed from power and how a new democracy will be born. In more than half a century of rule, the Chinese Communist Party has turned a poor and benighted China into a moderately well-off and increasingly influential nation. Yet the Party has failed to keep pace with change since stepping aside from daily life in the late-1970s. After nearly a hundred years of frustrating attempts to create a workable political system following the overthrow of the last dynasty, the prospects for democracy in China are better than ever, according to Bruce Gilley. Gilley predicts an elite-led transformation rather than a popular-led overthrow. He profiles the key actors and looks at the response of excluded elites, such as the military, as well as interested parties such as Taiwan and Tibet. He explains how democracy in China will be very "Chinese," even as it will also embody fundamental universal liberal features. He deals with competing interests -- regional, sectoral, and class -- of China's economy and society under democracy, addressing the pressing concerns of world business. Finally he considers the implications for Asia as well as for the United States.


The derrick is positioned just below the rostrum of the Gate of Heavenly Peace in central Beijing. It is a brilliant autumn day. the hydraulic arm and the cables have been secured and checked by the 20-man crew. Crowds stand in awe in the vast Tiananmen Square below, as if they are about to witness a religious event.

At 10 am sharp, the signal is given and, accompanied by the barking orders of a foreman, a one-ton, 21 foot by 16 foot glass fiber-reinforced plastic painting begins its descent from the rostrum face. It has been quite some years since Mao Zedong stood here before 300,000 people on October 1, 1949 and announced the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Now his portrait, hung hastily just a few hours before the founding ceremony, is being removed. China’s Communist Party has fallen from power and Mao’s portrait is an anachronism.

Mao’s face seems to wince with each jerk of the cables as the portrait descends. There is an apprehension in the crowd, as if the profanation of the sacred object might unleash violence from the heavens. But there are no earthquakes, no fireballs. With Mao’s enigmatic smile secured in the back of a flatbed truck, the crowd disperses with little fanfare. in a few days time, Mao’s tomb in the center of the square will be removed to a museum in his hometown far away in Hunan province. Another dynasty has come and gone.

It has been a month since a group of reformers in the senior ranks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seized power and declared plans to introduce democratic elections, and events have been unfolding quickly. a national constitutional convention is planned for November where more than 5,000 delegates appointed by the interim leadership will attempt to point their country in the direction of a functioning democracy. the Great Hall of the People is buzzing with preparations for the meeting. Across the Avenue of Eternal Peace, the CCP’s vacated Zhongnanhai leadership complex has been opened to the public, which throngs through its lakes and villas in fascination.

The end of communist rule and the embrace of democracy in China will be one of the most important events of the twenty-first century. It will mark for the world the virtual end of a remarkable yet tragic experiment in utopianism known as Marxist-Leninism. It will also represent for a fifth of mankind . . .

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