chapter  6
11 Pages

Pan Wei’s Consultative Rule of Law Regime: Reforming Authoritarianism in China

ByGunter Schubert

As the PRC heads toward more world market integration and internal economic restructuring after its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in late 2001, rampant corruption and deepening social and political cleavages force the Communist leadership to engage in new initiatives to stabilize one-party rule and consolidate overall regime legitimacy. On the welfare front, this has led to efforts to build a nationwide social security network,1 to ameliorate the living conditions of migrant workers,2 and to alleviate the tax burden of the peasants.3 Apart from these new policies, political reforms are officially deemed necessary to enhance accountability at all levels of the system. As a matter of fact, they have been regarded as critical for the eventual success of Chinese socialism since the early reform era. Besides separating the Party from the state by giving more political autonomy to government organs4 and bestowing more independent decision-making authority to the management of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the Communist leadership embarked on a policy of introducing direct village elections in the late 1980s, initiated new methods of candidate nomination for the elections of the PRC’s national, provincial, and local people’s congresses, along with reform efforts to strengthen their supervisory functions in the 1990s, and-more recently-began experimenting with new modes of internal competition to install Party secretaries and other leading cadres at the local level.5 As for China’s leaders, most important in the area of political system reform is the professionalization of the cadre management system, which aims at upgrading the civil and Party bureaucracy’s efficiency and impartiality, and the gradual institutionalization of a rule of law system to which all political and legal decision-making power should be subjected.6