Following the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, many observers felt that while the Chinese Communist Party had weathered the immediate storm, its days were numbered. Combined with the serial collapse of communist regimes behind the Iron Curtain, it seemed as if communism was fatally faltering. The experts, however, proved to be wrong about China. Notwithstanding the occasional minor crisis, the nation has experienced explosive economic growth and relative
political stability ever since 1989.
In The Dictator's Dilemma, eminent China scholar Bruce Dickson explains in highly accessible prose why the regime has survived and prospered. China watchers who obsess over signs of the regime's eventual demise (staved off, in their opinion, only by a cocktail of severe political repression and high economic growth) see a fundamental dilemma for China's rulers: the government has devised a clever survival strategy, but the seeds of its destruction are ever-present. Dickson, though,
contends that this thesis bypasses some basic facts. The regime's policies may generate resentment and protest, but the CCP still enjoys a surprisingly high level of popular support. The party is not cut off from the people either. It consults with a wide range of specialists, stakeholders, and members of the
general public in a selective but still extensive manner. And it tolerates and even encourages a growing and diverse civil society, even while restricting access to it. Today, the majority of Chinese people see the regime as increasingly democratic even though it does not allow political competition and its leaders are not accountable to the electorate. In short, while the Chinese people may prefer change, they prefer that it occurs within the existing political framework. Dickson draws upon
original public opinion surveys, interviews, and published materials to explain why there is so much popular support for the regime.
The Chinese regime's basic stability is a familiar story to China specialists, but not to those whose knowledge of contemporary China is limited to the popular media. The Dictator's Dilemma, an engaging synthesis of how the CCP rules and its future prospects, will enlighten both audiences, and will be essential for anyone interested in understanding China's increasing importance in world politics.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 636 g
Dimensions: 242 x 163 x 35 mm
Mr. Dickson addresses these questions by examining the ruling party's program and by drawing on recent surveys and focus groups to discern how ordinary Chinese from cities across the country feel about their current political system and its policy outcomes. * Wall Street Journal *
thought-provoking book * Jonathan Mirsky, Times Higher Education *
Based on urban surveys and focus groups, Dicksons book finds strong levels of trust in and support for the Chinese government. Dickson teases out how these attitudes are affected by the regimes nimble use of various tools: repression, propaganda, economic performance, controlled channels for complaints, limited toleration of civil society groups, and the co-optation of ambitious young people by the Communist Party. * Foreign Affairs *