The People's Republic of China

An Alternative Model?

Beijing 2
The People's Republic of China : An Alternative Model? - Emilia Galiano


The article presents the people’s republic of China as a possible alternative model to those represented by the developed world. The focus is, on the one hand, on China’s foreign policy, critically examined in the light of the main theories regarding international relations. On the other hand, China’s prospects for domestic political reform will be analyzed, based on the relevant literature regarding economic growth and democratization. Specific principles guiding China’s foreign policy and the possible adoption of a deliberative kind of democracy characterize the country and allow many to see it as an innovative alternative.


The impressive economic growth of the People’s Republic of China in the last twenty years is difficult not to mention due to its importance and its potential effects. Liberalization of the economy coupled with the opening to foreign capital guaranteed the country continued growth, which reached an average of 10.2 percent in the period from 2001 to 2008.1 these developments have been matched by the increasing demands of civil society, as it is largely dissatisfied with the lack of a political transition and suffering under rising inequalities. Despite this, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) still enjoys a remarkable degree of legitimacy, thanks to its accomplishments in the economic realm, to the recourse to a nationalistic discourse, and to the greater salience given by the CCP to concepts such as “socialist democracy” or “sustainable development.”

Chinese capabilities are changing. Economic growth has allowed the People’s liberation Army to pursue modernization of the military and the acquisition of more sophisticated defense technologies. This military power nevertheless composes just a small fraction of the huge economic power of the country. As a result of unprecedented export-oriented foreign direct investments (FDI), the country was able to maintain a double surplus in current accounts as well as capital and financial accounts, and thus able to accumulate huge amounts of foreign reserves.2 nowadays, China might become either a savior or a final un-doer: if the country continues to increase domestic consumption, developed countries could turn to China as a potentially vast market for exports during a time of global recession; the downside is that the country’s use of foreign reserves is unpredictable, and in the remote case that this power should be wielded offensively, it could debilitate the global economy. China’s behavior within the international community has changed as well. Since the early 1990s, China has adopted a more moderate stance in its foreign policy, trying to integrate into the international community, often accepting externally imposed conditions—such as its accession to the World trade organization (WTO)—and cooperating in order to provide for stability and peace in the international system. China has adopted multilateralism as its foreign policy. Simultaneously, the United States is acknowledging the fact that it cannot manage the whole international system without the support of the other major players; other actors in the international community are following suit.3

I will briefly analyze the relevant literature, first regarding China’s foreign policy and then regarding the country’s domestic prospects for political reform. In this paper, I will discuss the People’s Republic of China’s alternative model. It will become clear that the country is following a tailored development path, chosen specifically to balance the needs of the society with the will of the party to survive. The prioritization of economic growth domestically determines both an unprecedented political reform path and very specific foreign policy choices. Through its mere existence, this model of development and behavior, coupled with the process of globalization, the declining power of the United States, and the negative consequences of the current financial crisis, will exert pressure on the increasingly inefficient models proposed by the developed world to change and adapt.

A Critical Review of the Relevant Literature on China’s Foreign Policy

Both China’s foreign policy stance and its internal economic and political development are unprecedented and only partly explained by the existing literature. In this brief review, I cover some of the theories developed within the different schools of thought in international relations, which have been applied to explain China’s behavior. I start with some theories developed within the broader realist tradition: the hegemonic stability theory, Mearsheimer’s offensive realism and how he applied it to China, and balance of power theory. I then analyze China’s behavior according to liberalism, making reference on the one hand to institutionalism and on the other to interdependence liberalism. The last school of thought I refer to is constructivism. According to hegemonic stability theory, a declining hegemon together with a rising power will create instability within the system. According to Gilpin, the international system undergoes significant changes when the effective power of the hegemon declines and its supremacy is challenged by the rising of unsatisfied and revisionist powers.4 these revisionist countries will try to change international institutions and regimes created by the prevailing hegemon. When applied to the Chinese case, we would presume that the twilight of American power constitutes an opportunity for a rising China to at least try to change those international institutions and regimes. The United States had contributed to their design.5

However, China has not tried to challenge existing international institutions and regimes. It has not only adopted a more moderate attitude in the region but has also tried to integrate itself into a number of international institutions and legal frameworks. The country contributed to the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation organization, became a member of the WTO in 2001, and actively participates in regional institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) + 3, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).6 It has also signed various treaties, among them the nuclear non-Proliferation treaty, the Convention on Chemical Weapons, the Convention on Bacteriological Weapons, the Comprehensive test Ban treaty, the Convention on economic, Social and Cultural rights, and the International Convention on Civil and Political rights.7 Another oft-cited example is China’s participation in several peacekeeping operations, which is exceptional for a country that upholds sovereignty and non-interference in other states’ domestic affairs as fundamental values of its foreign policy.

According to Mearsheimer, every great power aims at becoming a regional hegemon since this is the only condition that will guarantee its security.8 to be able to achieve this goal, states will develop their economic and military capabilities to the fullest possible extent. According to Mearsheimer: “In the anarchic world of international politics it is better to be godzilla than Bambi.”9 Both the United States and China would compete for regional hegemony in the Asia Pacific region, according to this view. Moreover, a future clash between them will be almost inevitable: China will pursue assertive policies to reform the system, while the united States will aim for the maintenance of the status quo. Nevertheless, this perspective cannot account for the rising economic interdependence between these two countries, nor for the increasing disengagement of the United States from the region, and thus the increasing reliance on Japan and China in dealing with security issues in Asia-Pacific. The participation of China in the talks regarding the North Korean nuclear crisis is one prominent example. Another perspective applied to the Chinese case is the balance of power theory, which forecasts that, given the insecurity of living in an anarchic environment and the presence of superior powers in the system, a country can choose between balancing or bandwagoning—that is, to look for reliable allies to counter the predominant countries in the system or side with the latter against the weakest.10 the predictions resulting from the application of this perspective to Asia would be as follows: on the one hand, China would balance the superior power of the united States, looking for allies in the region and upgrading its defense systems; on the other hand, as China rises, other countries, both in the region and in the global system, should increasingly balance Chinese rising power, if they feel it is a threat.

Nevertheless, these predictions can be countered by some arguments drawn from liberal theorists. Again, the rising interdependence and cooperation between the united States and China cannot really be explained by the balancing theory: if China did seek to balance a more powerful America, which it saw as a threat, it would surely not engage in trade, finance its domestic debt, or cooperate on security issues. It is true that East Asian countries, especially Japan and South Korea, are balancing Chinese power and bandwagoning with the United States by modernizing their defense apparatuses and regularly carrying out military exercises with American troops. Yet it is also true that these same countries have pursued economic cooperation, which leads to ever increasing economic flows in terms of trade and FDI, with a country they should perceive as threatening. This economic integration has led to the creation of a China-ASEAN free trade area, the Chiang Mai Initiative, and projects for a potentially wider free trade area that includes Japan and South Korea. Economic cooperation pursued both by the People’s Republic of China and other countries in the region has been accompanied by a cooperative attitude towards security issues and a moderate stance on territorial disputes on the part of all the parties involved.11

Although I do not want to spend too much time here describing the situation in the east and South China Seas, suffice it to say that governments are trying to avoid confrontational attitudes; some steps towards a resolution of the dispute have been taken, including the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002 and a 2008 agreement on the joint exploration of the seabed near the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Incidents are still possible, however, as demonstrated by the recent issue concerning a Chinese fishing boat near the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

Balance of power theory, offensive realism, and hegemonic stability theory are insufficient to explain China’s behavior in the international arena and the responses of other stakeholders in the system. Put differently, this behavior would be explained only if one could assume that economic objectives can be separated from strategic and security issues. this assumption is not possible in a realist framework, in which economic growth, security, and power are closely interrelated: in such a framework, economic integration is only possible if it does not lead to an excessive dependence, if it serves vital interests of the state, and if the trade partner is not perceived as a threat.12 relative gains from trade and security externalities arising from economic integration can help sustain this argument: on the one hand, countries will only engage in trade if the partner’s relative gains are not excessively high; on the other, trade will mainly occur between allies who will invest gains from trade in mutual security.13 taking either of these approaches, how can the rising economic ties binding countries in the Asian region and in the world to China be explained? If China is perceived as a threat because of its assertive interests, why are these countries not balancing the rising Chinese power by cutting these economic ties?14

Liberal theory could provide a more moderate perspective: China has not pursued aggressive objectives because it has been integrated into the global economy. According to institutionalism, becoming part of international institutions and regimes facilitated cooperation and understanding with rival countries. This strand of liberalism considers that issues concerning anarchy and security can be overcome through cooperation, which is possible within international institutions where information is easier to acquire and transaction costs are lower. Moreover, considering interdependence liberalism, greater economic interdependence would highly increase the costs of a possible conflict. Now that China’s economy is growing at double-digit rates thanks to huge flows of FDI and the exports of cheap, labor-intensive goods, why would it try to disrupt and challenge the system? Economic growth also fosters the emergence of domestic social groups, who profit from economic reforms and greater openness and will favor even more liberalization and integration with the global economy.

However, while liberals criticize realists by pointing out the importance of institutions and economic incentives resulting from increased integration, realists in turn criticize liberals as being too utopian and not seeing that China’s real intentions are aggressive in the long run. According to realist scholars, the supposed attitudinal change in China’s foreign policy is nothing but a “Charm offensive.”15 this last critique highlights the problematic fact that deciphering a country’s intentions is indeed difficult—the more so given that China in particular still has some strong territorial claims, feels victimized, and is ruled by a party seeking to legitimize itself internally, partly by drawing on nationalistic ideology. Moreover, it is important to note that at the regional level China is not really binding itself to a given set of values or procedures, as all the regional forums it participates in are discussion forums. This makes drawing conclusions about the efficacy of these institutions difficult.

Before considering the last perspective, constructivism, I would like to summarize the issues treated up to this point by citing the opinion of a constructivist scholar. Legro, in an article published in 2007, points out that both realism and liberalism are overly deterministic in that they do not leave room for considering the effects of unpredictable events.16 More than predicting future behavior, constructivists explain China’s present increased integration and moderate attitude within international organizations. They focus on the concept of socialization: China’s exposure to Western values, decision-making processes, and behavioral procedures have completely changed the set of incentives the country faces. In the end, this is what “the ASEAN Way” is all about—integrating the People’s Republic of China in a regional framework, and thereby encouraging the country to share a set of common values and views regarding regional security and the promotion of economic development.17

Liberalization of its domestic economy and integration into the international system have indeed contributed to the development of new ideas regarding China’s foreign policy, such as the “new Security Concept” and the preference for multilateralism, in order to attain a common, comprehensive, and cooperative kind of security.18 Constructivism might seem appealing given its ability to explain why China has adopted a more moderate foreign policy stance, which is no longer guided by the exportation of Communist revolution, and why the countries in the region have not engaged in balancing behavior. Nevertheless, this perspective fails to deliver a comprehensive interpretation of China’s economic and security objectives. In particular, it fails to explain the prioritization of the goal of economic growth, which is arguably the single most important determinant of the country’s foreign policy, both now and in the future. The prioritization of economic growth has been included in the CCP’s domestic agenda in order to ensure the country’s development and the party’s survival; it has not only produced an agenda of gradual domestic political reforms, but also a new attitude in the international arena— one guided by the need to ensure a stable and peaceful environment to allow for the country’s continued economic prosperity. This development can hardly be linked to a this is mainly concerned with international relations and how complex regimes, based on specific values, together with socialization dynamics can shape a country’s behavior.

By focusing on the prioritization of economic objectives and the CCP’s survival, I am adopting a different level of analysis from one of nation-states as main actors to one that focuses on nation states as domestic actors and looks at their incentives and preferences. Such a change in the level of analysis allows perception into what makes China’s foreign policy choices so unusual and not ascribable to any particular theory or perspective. It also introduces the next section about the domestic situation. The prioritization of economic development is linked to the lack of political reforms and the prospects of survival for the CCP.

A Critical Review of the Relevant Literature on China’s Political Reforms

China has also followed a very specific trajectory in respect to its economic and political development. Because economic growth was both high and visible, many scholars expected a parallel breakthrough in the political sphere, and could point to some political reforms. In other words, many were waiting for tangible steps towards democratization. Nevertheless, political change was never really pursued, outside of reforms, which were limited in scope. In this sense, the Chinese case once again differs from what the vast literature has predicted on the basis of the relation between economic development and democracy and the direction of the causal link between the two.

In this review, I will refer to recent studies concerning the fundamental question of whether or not economic growth favors the emergence of democracy or vice versa that have begun to proliferate since Lipset’s article was published in 1959. What is clear from the vast literature on the subject is that there is no unique answer despite the many studies both quantitative and qualitative. The modernization theory claims that democratization cannot happen without the existence of some prerequisite conditions linked to economic growth. In general, these conditions, which favor the emergence of a new set of values and a middle class supportive of democratization, have to do with urbanization, economic wealth, and education.19 these conditions should hold in the case of China. On the one hand, it appears that the emergence of a more politically organized civil society has been crushed by the CCP, which has been quick to spot and stop every potential threat to its survival. The 1989 Tiananmen Square events and the recent repression of the Falun Gong illustrate this propensity. On the other hand, it is also true that outright opposition and bottom-up democratization might have difficulty emerging in China since the party still enjoys legitimacy, even if it might seem limited, because of its achievements in the economic sphere and the partial reforms in the political and social spheres.

The CCP has increased its legitimacy through promulgating the belief that it is the appropriate institution to govern the Chinese people, and gathers support by drawing on nationalism, economic growth, and the provision of social stability to gather support. The “three represents theory”20 has, in addition, broadened the legitimacy base of the CCP by enabling the middle class to enter the party. Moreover, recently the fourth and fifth-generation CCP leaders are using concepts such as equality, sustainable development, and democracy with Chinese characteristics, which had been common elements in Deng Xiaoping’s political discourse, in a new, pragmatic framework. Government effectiveness has been targeted by the CCP through the provision of more generalized public services such as health care and education, which partly satisfy the expectations of the broad public. All of this might not be enough, and a more sustainable strategy would need to address the lack of the most fundamental rights concerning political representation, labor protection, freedom of opinion/expression and assembly/association, reproductive rights, and so on. The lack of these rights is strongly perceived by the Chinese citizens, who are demanding to be heard.21         the contrary perspective is introduced elegantly by Przeworski and Limongi in their 1997 paper: “the emergence of democracy is not a by-constructivist perspective, since product of economic development. Democracy is or is not established by political actors pursuing their goals, and it can be initiated at any level of development.”22 this perspective holds that democracy favors development—or at least that it should be pursued together with economic growth.23 for Amartya Sen, democracy is a universal value, recognizable as such and valued by a majority of people. Moreover, its intrinsic value, its instrumentality, and its constructive function make it a political system capable of supporting a more general human development. It also allows for a balanced and more sustainable (and arguably more equitable) growth and the advancement of society as a whole. The link between democracy and economic growth has been verified through various econometric studies that have underlined its ability to produce more predictable and stable long-run growth and deal more efficiently with economic shocks.24 Democracy also has indirect effects on growth, through better health and education provision.25

Indeed, the CCP has recognized the intrinsic value of democracy, although there is a gap between words and deeds: the political discourse is full of references to what is called “socialist democracy,” but its characteristics are rarely stated openly. However, one might expect that such a system would presuppose the preeminence of the CCP and only accord limited political rights to the broader population. Moreover, it does not seem that a “democratization” process in this direction has started. It is debatable whether or not the Party has recognized the potential growth-enhancing effect of democracy. If it were to account for this effect, the CCP might indeed push for democratization for no other reason than its own survival, which is linked to the performance of the Chinese economy. However, why would the CCP decide to follow a model of development based on democracy, given that the Chinese system has delivered solid economic performance and that representative democracy itself is a model experiencing some troubles, mainly due to globalization? If the growth-enhancing effect of democracy is just a matter of moderation, inclusion, and openness to dialogue, there is no reason why the People’s Republic of China could not develop an alternative to democracy, a mixed-type of system capable of being efficiently responsive to the growing demands of the population.

Many sinologists have underlined the precariousness of the Chinese system. It might be relatively stable in the short run, but the prospects for the long run are quite different, ranging from total collapse to democratization, with few scholars viewing the continuation of the status quo as feasible.26 Some point to the strength of the Chinese “resilient authoritarian system,”27 while others note its self-destructive weaknesses and envision collapse.28 A few have forecasted that democratization will indeed happen,29 while most Chinese scholars like to highlight the prospects for the emergence of a “consultative rule of law regime”30 or a “socialist democracy” (democracy with Chinese characteristics).31 According to yet another strand of debate, the Chinese elite will choose incremental, idiosyncratic, and instrumental reforms,32 maintaining a central role for the CCP and leading to the emergence of an “eclectic state.”33 this last view seems the most feasible and realistic since it takes into account the fact that China’s domestic political reforms have in many cases not followed modern theories about growth and democratization and acknowledges that the CCP tried, and will try, to adapt the system to a changing environment. This gradual and incremental process has characterized the People’s Republic of China as an exception, far from becoming a proto-liberal democracy, but possibly moving towards the adoption of a model based on deliberative democracy with a strong rule of law element.

Conclusion: China’s Alternative Model

Many scholars have tried to understand the priorities of the CCP both internationally and domestically. The most relevant issues are the survival of the CCP—ensured by social stability and legitimacy based on economic performance and nationalism34—and the maintenance of a peaceful and stable international environment based on multilateralism to ensure continued growth. In this framework, economic growth does not seem to be a means to increase military capability, but rather an end in and of itself, connected to the survival of the party.

The needs of the People’s Republic of China and its experience have specific characteristics reminiscent of some other East Asian states. Some scholars have tended to refer to the “Beijing Consensus” as indicative of a set of Sino-specific elements that other developing countries are increasingly considering as an alternative to the Western-structured model of development. These Sino-specific elements include: a preference for authoritarian regimes, a technocratic approach to governance issues, the stressing of sovereignty principles (territorial integrity in particular) and non-interference, free market promotion and prioritization of growth, and stronger and more influential international organizations.35 It seems that there is no consensus in the international community about these elements, nor about their diffusion and application: the multifaceted concept of the “Beijing Consensus” has mainly been used in comparison with the “Washington Consensus”—the latter includes in this context both macroeconomic prescriptions and Western values. Nevertheless, the specifics that characterize the People’s Republic of China (call it “Beijing Consensus” or otherwise) clearly constitute an alternative—viable or not—to the model put forward by the developed world.

As already seen, China’s foreign policy hardly follows what international relations theories have forecasted, and this is because the country’s guiding principles are defined in terms of the overarching objective of economic development. Moderation, a cooperative attitude, and the preference for multilateralism indicate China’s willingness to maintain and favor a stable and peaceful international environment conducive to the country’s economic growth. The principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference are coupled with sincere cooperation within the multilateral framework of international organizations, both on a global and a regional level. China’s active participation in the ASeAn+3 forum, and the creation of the China-ASEAN FTA and the Shanghai Cooperation organization, are of particular interest within this context.

On the domestic side, the People’s Republic of China does not yet constitute a viable and credible alternative to representative democracies. Nevertheless, as mentioned by some scholars,36 the political elite determine the direction of the development process in the economic as well as in the political realm. In this sense, there is indeed room for hope that the CCP will pursue reform in the direction of greater political openness to ensure its own survival and to reinvigorate its legitimacy. Representative democracy seems an unlikely choice given that the party is concerned with its own survival. Such a system might not be an appropriate option in this regard. Nevertheless, it is possible that the CCP might pursue some kind of deliberative/consultative democracy. This concept is usefully defined following what Habermas wrote about a republican kind of democracy, where the hierarchical regulations of the state and the decentralized regulations of the market coexist with solidarity and are oriented towards the attainment of the common good.37 for Fishkin, deliberative democracy, possible in small groupings of citizens, “gives a prime role for the public’s considered judgments—for opinions that people arrive at after they have had a chance to consider competing arguments and opposing points of view.”38 In such a decentralized system, civil participation can coexist with the survival of the CCP, which would be perceived as the provider of stability and the instrument to effectively implement the decisions made on this grass-roots level.

The adoption of consultative/deliberative forms of democracy at the local level is indeed possible. As grass-roots democracy and economic reforms have been tested and spread mainly in a decentralized way, the Party can certainly be seen as pursuing political opening in the same incremental, decentralized way. This does not challenge the Party’s role and would give the people the chance to discuss problems and put forward solutions more effectively. Deliberative/consultative forums could certainly provide representation for different ethnic groups at the local level and their respective needs, and this could lessen localized tensions concerning cultural differences. Such mechanisms would require the granting of individual rights, but if the whole process were managed in a gradual way, the final extension of these rights would most likely have minimal effects on the survival of the CCP, since all dissatisfaction would effectively and efficiently be channeled within forums of discussion. In addition to deliberative mechanisms, the CCP should also define a rule of law system capable of decreasing the incidence of corruption and collusion and able to complement the eventual implementation of a pure deliberative democracy model.

In short, the Chinese system is undeniably at a crossroads: on the one hand, economic development has led to the emergence of growing demands from the civil society regarding much needed reforms in the public sector to enlarge the provision of education and health and to curb corruption; on the other hand, Chinese citizens will increasingly demand more rights as basic needs are met and new necessities regarding political and social development emerge. The CCP will be able to address both of these issues in a successful way, at least in the short to medium-run, through the provision of extensive public goods,39 the reduction of inequalities among rural poor and rich urban households, more decisive steps towards the expansion of political participation (through the adoption of deliberative democracy methods), and pro-growth strategies. A way to ensure continued economic growth is through the provision of public goods in rural areas in order to decrease savings and increase consumption domestically: it is self-explanatory how such a strategy could address these two issues simultaneously.

In conclusion, it is highly unlikely that China will adopt an aggressive stance or proactively try to redefine international regimes and institutions according to its values. The country will nonetheless actively participate and integrate in the world community, and this active participation also means that it will contribute to the shaping of international norms and procedures. The world will probably move toward a multipolar and more globalized world in which the principal actors are still nation-states, although their predominance will increasingly be challenged. In such a world, China’s guiding principles in both foreign policy and domestic development might represent an alternative kind of approach some might decide to follow.

Notes & References

  1. National Bureau of Statistics of P.R. China, China Statistical Yearbook 2009 (Beijing, China Statistics Press, 2010).
  2. China holds a little more than one trillion the worth of US bonds, although this situation is starting to change as the country seeks to diversify the destination of its capital outflows.
  3. Joseph Nye, “The Future of American Power,” Foreign Affairs 86, no. 6 (2010): 2-12. It is notable that Clark quotes President Obama’s affirmation that different nations are exerting greater influence in a more dynamic international system; Ian Clark, “China and the US: A Succession of Hegemonies?,” International Affairs 87, no. 1 (2011): 13-28. Niall Ferguson points to the unavoidable decline of the US, accelerated by the economic crisis. Niall Ferguson, “Complexity and Collapse,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 2 (2010): 18-32. Hugh White makes similar points. Hugh White, “The End of American Supremacy,” East Asia Forum (2010), 2010/09/12/the-end-of-american-supremacy/.
  4. Robert Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
  5. Christopher Layne, “The Unipolar Illusion: Why New Great Powers Will Rise,” International Security 17, 4 (1993): 5-51; Roy Denny, “Hegemon on the Horizon: China’s threat to East Asian Security,” International Security 19, no. 1 (1994): 149-168.
  6. The active participation has been fostered, according to some scholars, by the accommodating attitudes and the consensual practices of the Asian countries, sometimes termed as the “ASEAN Way.” Michael Yahuda, “The Evolving Asian Order: the Accommodation of Rising Chinese Power,” in Power Shift: China and Asia’s New Dynamics, ed. David Shambaugh (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005).
  7. Rosemary Foot, “Chinese Power and the Idea of a responsible State,” The China Journal 45 (2001): 1-19.
  8. John J. Mearsheimer, “China’s Unpeaceful rise,” Current History 105, no. 690 (2006): 160-162.
  9. Zbigniew Brzezinski and John Mearsheimer, “Debate: Clash of Titans,” Foreign Policy 146 (2005): 48.
  10. Zbigniew Brzezinski and John Mearsheimer, “Debate: Clash of titans,” Foreign Policy 146 (2005): 46-50; Thomas Christensen, “Posing Problems without Catching Up: China’s Rise and Challenges for U.S. Security Policy,” International Security 25, no. 4 (2001): 5-40; Joshua Kurlantzick, “China’s Charm offensive in Southeast Asia,” Current History 105, no. 692 (2006): 270-276.
  11. Ralf Emmers, “the De-escalation of the Spratly Dispute in Sino-Southeast Asian Relations,” RSIS Working Paper 129 (2007); Rosemary Foot, “Chinese Strategies in a US-Hegemonic Global Order: Accommodating and Hedging,” International Affairs 82, no. 1 (2006): 77-94; Mingjiang Li, “Security in the South China Sea: China’s Balancing Act and New Regional Dynamics,” RSIS Working Paper 149 (2008); Ren Xiao, “Between Adapting and Shaping: China’s role in Asian regional Cooperation,” Journal of Contemporary China 18, no. 59 (2009): 303-320.
  12. I refer here to the literature dealing with the “power v. plenty” dilemma. Jocab Viner, “Power Versus Plenty as objectives of foreign Policy in the Seventeenth and eighteenth Century,” World Politics 1, no. 1 (1948): 1-29; Wolfers Arnold, “The Pole of Power and the Pole of Indifference,” World Politics 4, no. 1 (1951): 39-63; Robert O. Keohane, “American Policy and the trade-growth Struggle,” International Security 3, no. 2 (1978): 20-43.
  13. Joanne Gowan and Edward Mansfield, “Power Politics and International trade,” The American Political Science Review 87, no. 2 (1993): 408-420; Helen Milner, Peter Rosendorff, and Edward Mansfield, “International Trade and Domestic Politics: the Domestic Sources of International Trade Agreements and Institutions,” in The Role of Norms and Institutions in International Cooperation in Trade and Environmental Issues, eds. Eyal Benvenisti and Moshe Hirsch, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  14. Many authors are convinced that China will become more assertive as it reaches a sufficient level of military power. Aaron L. Friedberg, “The Future of U.S.-China Relations: Is Conflict Inevitable?” International Security 30, no. 2 (2005): 7-45; Michael G. Gallagher, “China’s Illusory Threat to the South China Sea,” International Security 19, no. 1 (1994): 169-194; Bonnie S. Glaser, “China’s Security Perceptions: Interests and Ambitions,” Asian Survey 33, no. 3 (1993): 252-271; Robert Ross, “Beijing as a Conservative Power,” Foreign Affairs 76, no. 2 (1997): 3345; Erika Strecker Downs and Phillip C. Saunders, “Legitimacy and the Limits of Nationalism: China and the Diaoyu Islands,” International Security 23, no. 3 (1998-1999): 114-146.
  15. Joshua Kurlantzick, “China’s Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia,” Current History 105, no. 206 (2006): 270-276.
  16. Jeffrey Legro, “What China Will Want: the Future of Intentions of a Rising Power,” Perspectives on Politics 5, no. 3 (2007): 515-534.
  17. Thomas Berger, “Power and Purpose in Pacific East Asia: A Constructivist Interpretation,” in International Relations Theory and the Asia Pacific, eds. g. John Ikenberry and Michael Mastanduno (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003); Alastair Ian Johnston, “Is China a Status quo Power?,” International Security 27, no. 4 (2003): 5-56; Alastair Ian Johnston, “Socialization in International Institutions: the ASEAN Way and International Relations Theory,” in International Relations.
  18. Jianwei Wang, “China’s Multilateral Diplomacy in the New Millennium,” in China Rising: Power and Motivations in Chinese Foreign Policy, eds. Yong Deng and Fei-ling Wang (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005).
  19. Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” The American Political Science Review 53, no. 1 (1959): 69-105. Barro addresses the concept of living standards, comprehensive of economic wealth, education and health conditions. Robert Barro, “Democracy and growth,” Journal of Economic Growth 1 (1996): 1-27; Barro, “Determinants of Democracy,” Journal of Political Economy 107, no, 6 (1999): 158-183. Burkhart and Lewis-Beck found that economic growth, measured as per capita energy consumption, explains a statistically significant amount of democratization. Burkhart Ross and Michael Lewis-Beck, “Comparative Democracy: the Economic Development Thesis,” American Political Science Review 88, no. 4 (1994): 903-910.
  20. The theory states that the CCP represents the development trends of advanced productive forces, the orientations of an advanced culture, and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people of China.
  21. Within this context, Shambaugh and Nathan have underlined the ability of the party to reform and adapt itself to changing conditions. Andrew J. Nathan, “Authoritarian Resilience,” Journal of Democracy, 14, no. 1, (2003): 6-17; David Shambaugh, China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation (Princeton: California university Press, 2008). Growing resources favor the survival of the regime. Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi, “Modernization: Theories and Facts,” World Politics 49, no. 2, (1997): 155-183; Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and George Downs, “Development and Democracy,” Foreign Affairs 4, no. 5 (2005): 77-86.
  22. Przeworski and Limongi, “Modernization: theories and facts,” 177.
  23. Amartya Sen, “Democracy as a Universal Value,” Journal of Democracy 10, no. 3 (1999): 3-17; Rodrik Dani, “Democracy and Economic Performance” (paper presented at a conference in Cape Town, South Africa, January 1998); Matthew Baum Matthew and David Lake, “The Political Economy of Growth: Democracy and Human Capital,” in American Journal of Political Science 47, no. 2 (2003): 333-347; Elias Papaioannou and Gregorios Siourounis, “Democratisation and Growth”, The Economic Journal 118 (2008): 1520-1551.
  24. Rodrik, “Democracy and economic Performance.”
  25. Baum and Lake, “The Political Economy of Growth.”
  26. One of the few scholars affirming that the Chinese regime is still a viable political system, able to address the country’s needs, is Zhengxu Wang, who is convinced that the CCP still enjoys a high level of legitimacy, given its role in the attainment of economic development and its ability to provide public goods that meet the demands of the society as a whole (he points to the high level of satisfaction within the Chinese population). Zhengxu Wang, “Explaining Regime Strength in China,” in China: An International Journal 4, no. 2 (2006): 217-237.
  27. Nathan, “Authoritarian resilience.”
  28. Minxin Pei, China’s Trapped Transition: The Limits of Developmental Autocracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006).
  29. Bruce Gilley, China’s Democratic Future: How It Will Happen and Where It Will Lead (new York: Columbia University Press, 2004).
  30. Pan Wei, “Toward a Consultative Rule of Law Regime in China,” Debating Political Reform in China: Rule of Law vs. Democratization, ed. Zhao Suisheng (Armonk: An East Gate Book, 2006).
  31. Yu Keping, Democracy Is a Good Thing (Washington: the Brookings Institution, 2009).
  32. Fred Bergsten, Charles Freeman, Nicholas Lardy, and Derek Mitchell, China’s Rise: Challenges and Opportunities (Washington: Peterson Institute for International economics, 2008), especially chapter 3: “Democracy with Chinese Characteristics? Political Reform and the Future of the Chinese Communist Party.”
  33. Shambaugh, China’s Communist Party.
  34. Increasingly, as underlined in the introduction, the CCP is making open reference to concepts such as equality, sustainable development, and socialist democracy to meet the favor of the public.
  35. Richard Bitzinger and Barry Desker, “Why East Asian War is unlikely,” Survival 50, no. 6 (2008-2009): 105-128.
  36. Przeworski and Limongi, “Modernization: theories and facts.”
  37. Jürgen Habermas, “Three Normative Models of Democracy,” Constellations 1, no. 1 (1994): 1-10.
  38. James Fishkin, “Deliberative Democracy,” The Blackwell Guide to Social and Political Philosophy, ed. Simon Robert (Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 2002) 221-238. 39. I include education and health within the concept of “public goods” for convenience even though education is considered a publicly provided private good, and it is debatable whether health should be publicly provided.
Emilia Galiano is an M.A. candidate at Johns Hopkins university SAIS Bologna Center. She graduated from the University of Bologna in 2010, having completed a master’s thesis entitled “Commercial Power or Rising Challenger? Political and Economic Objectives in Chinese Foreign Policy, from 1990-2008.” Although she continues to study the People’s Republic of China, she is now widening her interests and concentrating on International Development.