Democratizing China



Perhaps the most intriguing question regarding political development in the post-Mao era is why China has not taken significant steps toward democratization despite more than two decades of unprecedented economic modernization, says analyst Minxin Pei:

Indeed, during the mid-1980s, with economic reform barely off the ground and encountering strong resistance from conservatives inside the regime, senior CCP leaders appeared more tolerant and permitted more public discussion on sensitive issues such as political reform. In contrast, since the mid-1990s, when economic reform became irreversible and its impact had raised the standard of living several fold, the regime has adopted an even more conservative political stance…

The four interlinked mega-trends of economic development, cultural change, political leadership trends, and the global environment point to a clear outcome – the democratization of China, according to another analysis, although the authors stress that the process is neither linear nor deterministic.

Please join a discussion on “Democratizing China: Insights from Theory and History” to mark the publication of Minxin Pei’s forthcoming book China’s Crony Capitalism: The Dynamics of Regime Decay (available in August). David Shambaugh and Geoff Dyer will provide comments.

National Endowment for Democracy

1025 F Street NW

Thursday, April 28 from 12pm to 2pm

(lunch served from 12pm to 12:15pm)


Livestream of the event will be available here.

Twitter: Follow @ThinkDemocracy and use #NEDEvents to join the conversation.

All cameras and media must register with NED public affairs at

About the Speakers

Minxin Pei is the Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government and the director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. He is also a non-resident senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He is the author of From Reform to Revolution: The Demise of Communism in China and the Soviet Union and China’s Trapped Transition: The Limits of Developmental Autocracy. Dr. Pei’s research has been published in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Modern China, China Quarterly, Journal of Democracy and many edited books. Dr. Pei is a frequent commentator on BBC World News, Voice of America, and National Public Radio; his op-eds have appeared in the Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek International, International Herald Tribune, and other major newspapers.

Geoff Dyer has worked for the Financial Times for over a decade in China, Brazil, the UK and now the US. He was the FT bureau chief in Beijing from 2008 to 2011, following three years working for the paper in Shanghai. He has also been the paper’s Brazil bureau chief and covered the healthcare industry, where he wrote extensively about the Aids epidemic in Africa and Asia. He now works in the FT Washington DC bureau, writing about American foreign policy. Dyer is the author of Contest of the Century: the New Era of Competition with China.

David Shambaugh is a professor of political science & international affairs and director of the China Policy Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He has served on the Board of Directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. Asia-Pacific Council, and other public policy and scholarly organizations. He has published more than thirty books, most recently China’s Future and The China Reader: Rising Power.


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