Forum: China’s Other Revolution

Last week, CDT linked to Edward Steinfeld’s article in Boston Review in which he argued that Taiwan and South Korea provided examples for China’s political future. Now, Boston Review has invited a number of other experts to respond to his argument:

Andrew G. Walder, Professor in the department of Sociology at Stanford University and author of Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement, writes that the fate of the former Soviet Union is paramount in the minds of China’s leaders.

Helen H. Wang
, author of The Chinese Dream: The Rise of the World’s Largest Middle Class and What It Means to You, writes that at least one of the critical conditions of democracy is currently present in China: a large and stable middle class.

Baogang He, author of Rural Democracy in China and Chair in International Studies at Deakin University in Australia, notes that although there have been liberalizing movements, the phrase “civil society” has been banned by propaganda officials in efforts to roll back change.

Ying Ma, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of Chinese Girl in the Ghetto, writes that many of the capitalist roaders co-opted by the Party echo the government’s refrain that China is not ready for democracy, an that the state wields a targeted form of political suppression.

Guobin Yang, Associate Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College and author of The Power of the Internet in China, writes that in view of growing labor unrest, a deeply troubled health-care system, and a predatory real estate market that not only far exceeds the means of ordinary citizens but has dire ecological consequences, we have yet to gauge the depths of the human costs of these market-driven changes and the kinds of political change they may give rise to.

Edward S. Steinfeld answers the concerns and criticism of the respondents, writing that far from prioritizing self-preservation, the Chinese government has gambled on radical and socially destabilizing reforms.


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