Democrats within the Chinese communist party since 1989

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Contemporary China, 2008, 17 (57), pp. 673 - 688
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The focus of this article is the discourse of democracy among a group of senior retired officials and academics within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1989. The post-totalitarian regime prevents them from forming a formal faction, but does not stop them from establishing a visible network and effectively arguing for the case of democratization. They want nothing less than Western style democracy as a system involving effective competition between political parties for positions of power through regular and fair elections, in which all members of the population enjoy the freedom of expression and the freedom to form and join political groups or associations. They publish chiefly on the Internet, but also through printing media home and abroad, including some high profile journals under their control or influence in China. By taking advantage of their profound thinking, rich experience and particularly their seniority within the communist hierarchy, democrats within the CCP are making increasing impacts on democratization in China, effectively keeping the debate on China's democratic future alive in the state media and among the CCP leadership. The response of the top CCP leadership to the proposals by their democrat colleagues is not entirely negative, especially on reaching a consensus of accepting democracy and human rights as universal values. The process of the conversion of Chinese communists to liberals is well under way, and sufficient intellectual resources have been accumulated for a democratic transition or a historical breakthrough of democratization in China.
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