In the 1990s China embarked on a series of political reforms intended to increase, however modestly, political participation to reduce the abuse of power by local officials. Although there was initial progress, these reforms have largely stalled and, in many cases, gone backward. If there were sufficient incentives to inaugurate reform, why wasn't there enough momentum to continue and deepen them? This book approaches this question by looking at a number of promising reforms, understanding the incentives of officials at different levels, and the way the Chinese Communist Party operates at the local level. The short answer is that the sort of reforms necessary to make local officials more responsible to the citizens they govern cut too deeply into the organizational structure of the party.
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It has often been argued that China will follow an incremental path to political reform, just as its economic reforms followed a gradual course. Indeed, it seemed that China was embarking on such a course in the 1990s, but political reform has stalled. This book uses case studies of prominent reform efforts to understand both why reform was started and why it has stalled. It draws on the literature on institutions and authoritarian political systems and so will appeal to students of comparative politics as well as those interested in China.About the Author:
Joseph Fewsmith is Professor of International Relations and Political Science at Boston University. He is the author of China since Tiananmen: From Deng Xiaoping to Hu Jintao (2008), which is the second edition of China since Tiananmen (2001); Elite Politics in Contemporary China (2001); The Dilemmas of Reform in China: Political Conflict and Economic Debate (1994); and Party, State, and Local Elites in Republican China: Merchant Organizations and Politics in Shanghai, 1980-1930 (1985). He is the editor of China Today, China Tomorrow (2010) and co-editor, with Zheng Yongnian, of China's Opening Society (2008). He is very active in the China field, traveling to China frequently and presenting papers at professional conferences such as the Association for Asian Studies and the American Political Science Association. His articles have appeared in such journals as The China Quarterly, Asian Survey, The Journal of Contemporary China, Modern China and Comparative Studies in Society and History. He is one of seven regular contributors to China Leadership Monitor, a quarterly web publication analyzing current developments in China. He is also an associate of the John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies at Harvard University and of the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer Range Future at Boston University.
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