Dilemmas of party adaptation: the CCP’s strategies for survival bruce j. dickson
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) faces a daunting dilemma: how to preserve the Leninist nature of the political system while presiding over the privatization of the economy. It seeks to maintain its monopoly on political organization – a hallmark of Leninism – even while it promotes increased competition in the market. Most observers, by contrast, believe that current conditions in China’s political and economic systems are incompatible, and expect political change of some kind will be necessary. Liberal reformers in China, and many outside observers, anticipate that economic liberalization, integration in the global economy, and rising living standards will inevitably lead to China’s democratization. The few remaining leftists within the CCP similarly warn that the party’s “reform and opening” (gaige kaifang
) policies have created economic and social changes that will eventually lead to the party’s collapse. So far, the CCP has stymied these predictions of its demise. It has proven to be more resilient and more adaptable than most observers ever imagined.2 In fact, the CCP hopes that these kinds of economic changes will bolster its popularity and legitimate its claim to be China’s ruling party, rather than trigger its demise.