China’s Communist Party is at a fatal age for one-party regimes. How much longer can it survive?

China power

China’s Communist Party is at a fatal age for one-party regimes. How much longer can it survive?

By Christina Zhou

A collage of Communist Party leaders including Xi Jinping, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Kim Jong-un, Pol Pot.

PHOTO: One-party regimes have rarely survived longer than 70 years. (ABC News: GFX/Jarrod Fankhauser)RELATED STORY: ‘Badly brainwashed’: Chinese-Australians divided over 70 years of communist ruleRELATED STORY: Communist China at 70 is strong, nationalistic and deeply insecureRELATED STORY: ‘No room for mercy in this system’: Xi Jinping’s rise from cave dweller to post-modern chairman

Pundits predicting the collapse of the Chinese Communist Party have been proven wrong decade after decade.

Key points:

  • The CCP has figured out ways to mitigate the risk of coups and revolutions
  • But China is facing slowing economic growth and an ageing society
  • Experts say the party could gradually open up politically, on its own terms

The CCP — which recently celebrated its 70th birthday — is one of the longest running single-party regimes in modern history.

But one-party governments have rarely survived longer than 70 years: the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ruled for 74 years before the bloc collapsed in 1991, and Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party retained power for 71 years until its defeat in the 2000 elections.

China’s only contemporary competition is North Korea, which has been ruled by the Kim family dynasty for 71 years, since its founding in 1948.

Analysts say while there’s no time limit on authoritarian governments, the CCP’s one-party rule may not be sustainable in the long run despite its past resilience and distinctiveness from other regimes.

But to look at when and how China could eventually undergo political reform, it’s important to first understand how the CCP has kept its grip on power for so long.

How did the CCP manage to survive this long?

A propaganda poster featuring Mao Zedong, it describes him as "the red sun in our hearts."

PHOTO: After Mao Zedong’s death, limits were placed on presidential terms — but those have disappeared under Xi Jinping. (Wikimedia Commons)

Rory Truex, assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, told the ABC the CCP was unique in terms of how it has mitigated the two major threats to authoritarian regimes — coups and revolutions.

To prevent the former, Mr Truex said the party had a system to ensure the transfer of power from one leader to the next happened “relatively peacefully”.

‘No room for mercy in this system’

'No room for mercy in this system'

We take a look at President Xi Jinping’s astonishing tale from his exiled life in rural China to becoming the most powerful leader since Chairman Mao Zedong.

Following Chairman Mao’s death in 1976, the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping wrote presidential term limits into China’s constitution, recognising the dangers of one-man rule and the cult of personality.

However, a controversial constitutional amendment passed in March 2018 removed the 10-year limit, spread over two five-year terms, so that President Xi Jinping could rule indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the regime has safeguarded itself from a revolution by “governing reasonably well to keep the population happy, so they have no desire to revolt”, and through controlling information and repression, Mr Truex said.

Michael Albertus, co-author of Authoritarianism and the Elite Origins of Democracy, said the CCP staked its legitimacy on national development and had delivered on that promise in an incredible manner, lifting half a billion people out of poverty in recent decades.

This year is also earmarked to be “a year of decisive victory for the elimination of poverty”, Mr Xi said in his New Year’s speech, as the CCP’s self-imposed 2020 deadline looms.

“We will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and realise the first centenary goal,” he said on state TV.

Read a lot more here:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-05/chinas-communist-party-is-at-a-fatal-age-for-one-party-regimes/11807138

Published by peter petterson

Father of four, grandfather of thirteen, and great-grandfather of eight. Resides in Taita, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. Living happily in retirement and enjoying the company of my many young descendants.

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