Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pacify the People a Yuan at a Time

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pacify the People a Yuan at a Time

Article excerpt

Money buys compliance, and a few shots of Confucianism help too, says Jonathan Mirsky

The Dictator's Dilemma: The Chinese Communist Party's Strategy for Survival By Bruce J. Dickson Oxford University Press 368pp, £18.99 ISBN 9780190228552 Published 28 July 2016

In this discouraging but thought-provoking book on whether there is hope for democracy in China, Bruce Dickson concludes that most Chinese are content when their personal incomes rise. Few want Communist rule to end, and they agree with the Chinese Communist Party that dissidents endanger state stability. There are no Chinese Mandelas, Havels, Sakharovs or Aung San Su Kyis, "no one in China who comes close to their stature, no one who enjoys widespread public support, no one who is seen as the symbol of a democratic sentiment within China". Even China's only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo, now serving an 11-year sentence for championing Western-style democracy, is either unknown or regarded "with limited sympathy within China".

What all this represents, Dickson argues, is a refutation of modernisation theory, which holds that as an autocratic country's people become richer they demand Western-style democracy. Drawing on large-scale surveys in 2010 and 2014 and focus-group interviews, Dickson found that most Chinese, while uninterested in their country's GDP, are conscious of rises, however small, in their incomes, which they believe show that their leaders are looking after them. They feel this way even though they know that improvements in education and healthcare are unevenly distributed, and that many officials are corrupt.

President Xi Jinping, an ardent admirer of Mao Zedong and ever on the lookout for disloyalty whether in open dissent or on the internet, uses repression - thoroughly outlined here - relatively sparingly, while also paying attention to focus groups and hundreds of non-governmental organisations to discover what is on his people's minds. …

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.