China’s dilemma is that continued reform will threaten the Party’s hold on power as an emerging middle class demands political representation while stalling reform will harm the growing nonstate sector and further deteriorate public support for the Party. In either case, the Party’s future looks bleak.
The Party can survive only by its ultimate reliance on the use of force to prevent competition from those who would contest single‐party rule. The recent crackdown on the founders of the first opposition party in the history of the People’s Republic, the Chinese Democratic Party, attests to the insecurity of the ruling elite.
Yet, even in the face of an oppressive government, the Chinese people have made substantial economic progress since 1978. They have done so because brave individuals have been willing to challenge the planned economy and because the CPC under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping recognized the failure of planning and the value of a market system.