My 2001 book predicts the Communist Party will fall from power within 10 years. So will we see a failure of the Chinese political system in the coming months?
For most of us, the notion that the Party could lose power anytime soon is ludicrous. After all, the dominate global narrative these days is that China already owns this century so that its ruling organization must be invulnerable. After all, with 78 million card-carrying members it reaches into virtually every corner of society, and there are no competitors in sight. We are told the Chinese people accept its right to rule. So how can such a mighty political system fall in the foreseeable future?
Quite easily, in fact. The essential problem for the Communists is that, from all we can tell, most Chinese people—and many inside the ruling organization itself—believe that a one-party system is no longer appropriate for China’s modernizing society. “Like all nondemocratic systems in the modern era,” writes Columbia University’s Andrew Nathan, “the Chinese system suffers from a birth defect that it cannot cure: the fact that an alternative form of government is more legitimate.”
Beijing now has a critical dilemma. Its leaders want to appear modern, but to do so they have had to cover up Tiananmen. Yet covering up Tiananmen is far more dangerous to their regime than boasting about its brutality. The continual erosion of fear since 1989 means that Deng’s essential lesson of Tiananmen—that the Communist Party will use deadly violence on a massive scale—has now been largely lost.