This study, however, has stressed that the rise of law-making institutions has been driven and undergirded by several hardy perennials of the Chinese political tradition: the informal power of senior leaders; interministerial politics and bureaucratic "empire-building"; leadership factionalism; conservative institutional views toward law, security, and society; etc. Sadly, Tiananmen did nothing to undercut the influence of these forces in Chinese politics. And post-Tiananmen research indicates clearly that those party leaders who head up the NPC, and those interest groups such as the official trade unions who have fared well in the NPC, continue to use the NPC as a conduit for converting their unofficial influence into official policy. Indeed, if anything, the rise to power of reform skeptics within the State Council after 1989 has forced economic reformers within the NPC, such as Wan Li and Peng Chong, to become even bolder in asserting their institutional prerogatives.
All of this suggests that even if China's ideology took several steps backward from "democracy" and "legality" in the immediate post-Tiananmen period, its basic political institutions have weathered the storm better than the ideological doctrines which allegedly motivated their development. In the long run, given the common tendency for legislatures in developing countries to become politically powerful before they become democratic, this may be a very modest source of optimism.
The author has promised confidentiality to most of the interview subjects for this project. Therefore, interviews are identified by a code which allows readers to see how much the author has relied on a given source while protecting the identity of that source.