If, as Adam Przeworski defines it, democracy is the “institutionalization of uncertainty,” the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was one of the most democratic in Chinese history. But this was not the sort of uncertainty that Professor Przeworksi had in mind – and it’s not necessarily good news for either the Chinese people or a world whose fate has become increasingly intertwined with China’s.
The flow of rumors and counter-rumors in the run-up to the congress offers a sober reminder that, after nearly 30 years of Chinese reforms, politics in Beijing remain opaque and not open to change. These uncertainties are consequential because personnel changes correlate with the policy preferences of those who will end up on top. Choosing an heir to Hu Jintao in 2012 will affect the direction of China’s political and economic evolution through 2022, when Hu’s successor’s second term would normally end. [Full Text]
Pierre F. Landry is associate professor of political science at Yale University.