• Michael Twohey
Part of the Studies on the Chinese Economy book series (STCE)


The current period of China’s system reform, from command economy communism to a greater reliance on market forces, was set in motion in the late 1970s. By the late 1980s it was apparent that China’s development strategy had broken with orthodox opinion at the time that said communist regimes must be overthrown to facilitate economic reform. Despite the collapse of the Soviet state and despite pressure for political change from its own people during the Tiananmen crisis in 1989 and from Western nations, the Chinese leadership rejected the idea that authoritarian rule should be abandoned immediately. Top officials in China argued that reform of the country’s political structure must be a protracted process that relied on the state to direct gradual, steady and experimental steps. These would rely on a capitalism that was restricted by the state for the sake of preserving the fundamental socialist principles of public ownership and common prosperity. The leaders did not believe that a more active political role for the people through multiparty elections could assist this process, or that their view about democracy was inhumane or showed indifference to the people.


Democratic Institution Western Nation Authoritarian Rule Protracted Process Multiparty Election 
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© Michael Twohey 1999

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  • Michael Twohey

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