When the post-Mao leadership initiated the reform of the economic system in 1978, they also set in motion a process of political reform. This did not mean the introduction of a multi-party political system or the end of communist party rule as witnessed in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Rather, it refers to the massive changes in both the processes and functioning of political power within the existing framework of party rule. Economic reform forced the elites to remake the sources of their power in response to political and economic changes that they had themselves initiated. A series of challenges to established state elites thus emerged out of the domestic economic reform process.