The Dictator's Dilemma: The Chinese Communist Party's Strategy for Survival

ISBN : 9780190228552

Bruce Dickson
256 ページ
156 x 235 mm

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.


1. Introduction
2. The Heavy Hand of the State
3. Mass Line for Modern Times
4. Serving the People
5. Generating Support
6. Defining Democracy
7. Will the Party Survive?


Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University; author of Red Capitalists in China (Cambridge UP); Wealth into Power (Cambridge UP), and Democratization in China and Taiwan (Oxford UP)