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Democracy in China

The Coming Crisis

Jiwei Ci

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Harvard Uni.Press Academi
29 November 2019
History; Asian history; Social & political philosophy; Political structures: democracy
A respected Chinese political philosopher calls for the Communist Party to take the lead in moving China along the path to democracy before it is too late. With Xi Jinping potentially set as president for life, China's move toward political democracy may appear stalled. But Jiwei Ci argues that four decades of reform have created a mentality in the Chinese people that is just waiting for the political system to catch up, resulting in a disjunction between popular expectations and political realities. The inherent tensions in a largely democratic society without a democratic political system will trigger an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy, forcing the Communist Party to act or die. Two crises loom for the government. First is the waning of the Communist Party's revolutionary legacy, which the party itself sees as a grave threat. Second is the fragility of the next leadership transition. No amount of economic success will compensate for the party's legitimacy deficit when the time comes. The only effective response, Ci argues, will be an orderly transition to democracy. To that end, the Chinese government needs to start priming its citizens for democracy, preparing them for new civil rights and civic responsibilities. Embracing this pragmatic role offers the Communist Party a chance to survive. Its leaders therefore have good reason to initiate democratic change. Sure to challenge the Communist Party and stir debate, Democracy in China brings an original and important voice to an issue with far-reaching consequences for China and the world.
By:   Jiwei Ci
Imprint:   Harvard Uni.Press Academi
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9780674238183
ISBN 10:   0674238184
Pages:   432
Publication Date:   29 November 2019
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jiwei Ci is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Moral China in the Age of Reform, The Two Faces of Justice (Harvard), and Dialectic of the Chinese Revolution: From Utopianism to Hedonism. He has held research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the National Humanities Center, and the Stanford Humanities Center.

Reviews for Democracy in China: The Coming Crisis

Ci offers shrewd insights into the contradictions in the party's ideology, the mentality of China's middle class, and the various ways the party sustains its legitimacy.--Andrew J. Nathan Foreign Affairs (03/01/2020) An elaborate but cogent argument about how the CCP will only overcome its illegitimacy, along with other tears in the national fabric, by choosing to usher in political democracy.--Martin Witte Asian Review of Books (02/16/2020) Jiwei Ci's ambitious book is intended as a practical political argument, addressed as a citizen of China to the incumbent leadership of its governing Communist Party. It is a work of intense seriousness, real intellectual scruple, and, under current circumstances, great political courage.--John Dunn, author of Breaking Democracy's Spell Jiwei Ci's account of the prospects of Chinese democracy is stimulating, deeply researched, and humanely argued. A passionate argument in favor of a more democratic China, it engages seriously with the question of what a Chinese, rather than abstract, democracy might look like, making original and nuanced arguments about how a party-state might genuinely pluralize. His reflections on Hong Kong are particularly thoughtful in light of the current turmoil. A powerful contribution to one of the most acute debates in geopolitics today.--Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally A complex, fascinating book that will have a major impact not only for readers interested in China, but also for anyone working on authoritarian transitions and democratic theory. I find Ci's prudential rather than normative argument on the need for democracy in China persuasive, if one thinks in terms of the Chinese Communist Party moving in a more democratic direction.--Tony Saich, author of Governance and Politics of China


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