Zhao Ziyang's Conversion to Liberalism: The Process of Mental Development and the Implications

Centre for Modern China Foundation
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Modern China Studies, 2010, 17 (1), pp. 67 - 90
Issue Date:
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This article is an analysis of the mental development of Zhao Ziyang from a left-wing youth to a revolutionary cadre and from a communist bureaucrat to a liberal. It also explores the implications of Zhao's experience for the current leaders of the Chin~se Communist Party. Zhao's conversion to liberalism started in 1989 when he was 70 and completed around 1996 after he was ousted and put under house arrest. It is argued in this article that, in a post-communist world and under the circumstances of the market economy, social conditions are ripe for the Chinese commlmist leaders to transform themselves to liberals and embrace constitutional democracy; that the two elements for this transformation are the moral courage to transcend the privilege of political monopoly and the capacity to absorb the intellectual and ideological resources of liberalism.
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