chapter  1
Introduction: authoritarianism, policy, and dams
Pages 26

The longevity and continued stability of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has spurred a lively debate about the necessary ingredients for authoritarian regimes to be resilient. What kind of foundation does a Communist single-party system need in order to successfully adapt to changing social, political, and economic circumstances? And how much adaptability is possible without causing damage to the main pillars upon which the authoritarian state system has been built? In the early 1990s, China’s one-party system not only survived the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union but remained stable to the extent that impressive social and economic development was achieved. Rather than being inherently static, the Chinese political system features a dynamic adaptive capacity. Although some parts of the system are continuously evolving and adjusting to the changing national and international environment, new conflicts along ethnic, economic, and social lines have emerged, which bring into question the continued resilience of the Chinese political system.