A scholar from Australia’s Centre for Independent Studies takes a good stab at explaining the Chinese government’s staying power in the Guardian’s Comment is Free:
Around 320,000 Britons visited China in 2007. One of the world’s great cultures has finally embarked on a path towards prosperity. China is a much more comfortable and welcoming place than it has ever been. Last year, Tony Blair told us that because of economic changes and rising prosperity, the movement towards democracy in China is “unstoppable.”
Everything from economic reforms to rising wealth levels, a growing and modern middle class (currently around 100-200 million people) behaving and acting like we do in Britain, and even granting Beijing the Olympics was meant to hasten the arrival of democracy in China. But since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, China is seemingly further away (pdf) from democracy.
What happened? After all, the circumstances seem ripe for democratisation.