China’s transition is drawing worldwide attention. China started market economic reforms in 1978 and is rapidly closing its economic gap with the developed world. The Chinese public and Chinese leaders have started to debate and explore where China should go politically and how to get there. After examining the merits and weaknesses of four prevailing theories of democratization—modernization, social mobilization, cultural/social capital, and negotiation-pact transition theory—we conclude with an appropriate model for China’s political future. We argue that (1) the conflict between the reform and conservative groups inside the communist regime will shape the process of China’s democratization; (2) the hope of China’s political future lies in continued economic development, a mature civil society, and the building of democratic political culture in society; and (3) the current intra-party democracy promoted by Hu and Wen signals a positive trend for China’s future democratization.


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pp. 140-169
Launched on MUSE
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