Democracy, Authoritarianism and Development in China

Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)


The concept of democracy does not have roots in traditional Chinese thought. Quite the contrary, much of the long Chinese political tradition is authoritarian and bureaucratic in nature. State Confucianism strove to achieve a moral consensus for society based on an official orthodoxy accepted by all. Even when modem ideas about democracy came to China in the early part of this century, they tended, as Whyte (1992, p. 60) shows, to stress the benefit to the state of having popular support and not the legitimacy of pluralism, the competition of ideas or the notion of proper and reasonable interests of individuals. Nathan (1985) describes democracy as presented ‘as an ornament of modernity and an asset for rulers’. These traditions and emphases have found resonance in the treatment of ideas about democracy in the People’s Republic.


Cultural Revolution Political Democracy Farm Population Reform Period Soviet Model 
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Copyright information

© International Economic Association 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.City University of New York and Columbia UniversityUSA
  2. 2.London School of Economics and Political ScienceUK

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