Why didn't China's communist system collapse?

"The majority of Chinese like to invoke a strong state"

In 1973 you were in Taiwan, at the time an anti-communist dictatorship of Mao's opponent Chiang Kai-shek. The island nation later turned into a democracy. A role model for your big neighbor?

The economic boom in Taiwan was already a challenge for Beijing. Because in China in the 80s, people began to believe that many small Taiwanese would do better for the country than this large unitary state. In fact, Deng Xiaoping's policy of reform and opening up has allowed and even initiated more competition between the regions. As far as politics is concerned, many in China, including within the Communist Party, think that greater participation of the population would make sense. Some want to massively reduce the role of headquarters. Others suspect that would weaken the country. I think it takes time to develop. In the current international situation, it makes sense to maintain a certain degree of centralism.

A cult has developed around Head of State Xi Jinping that has not existed since Mao. Followers visit the pubs where he has stopped and post fan videos on the Internet.

Yes, amazing. Xi has become popular through his struggle against privilege and corruption. You can see this personality cult in the Chinese media every day. Xi makes statements about the military, international relations, space travel ... Behind this are important actors in the party who want to achieve modernization through him. But will the party elite support this course in the long run? Then you have to see whether Xi will step down after ten years as planned and make room for a successor. I guess yes. Unless there is a palace revolt or other unfortunate developments.

Sixteen years ago, a highly acclaimed book by the American Gordon Chang was published: "The Coming Collapse of China". Why hasn't the People's Republic collapsed yet?

The idea that China must fall apart under communist rule is a dream of many Chinese intellectuals abroad. Behind this is a longing for freedom and light-heartedness that I understand very well. But I notice that the vast majority of Chinese - including those abroad - like to refer to a reliable, strong state.

The rich are moving their capital out of the country and buying real estate in North America.

It speaks for cosmopolitanism and mental agility that people who can diversify their risks. Especially since there have been worldwide networks of Chinese with their “Chinatowns” for more than 100 years. Taken in and of itself, this is not a sign of distance from any regime. If I could, I'd have an apartment in New York too.

The historian Timothy Garton Ash says with regard to China and the USA that in history violent conflicts always arise when a declining and an emerging great power clash. Are we heading for it?

The balance of power has been shifting economically for years, a process that need not be accompanied by war. China will demand and get more and more say in institutions like the World Bank. However, the USA today goes out with the slogan “Make America great again” and sees itself as number one. China is more geared towards a multilateral world.

The neighbors see it differently. Beijing is arguing with Vietnam over ownership claims in the South China Sea, with South Korea over a missile defense system, and the Taiwanese are being deprived of their independence.

It is common sense among historians that China has never been expansionist. A worldly happy attitude, such as the Americans have, is also less pronounced. The country is, of course, trying to control its periphery. Recognition of China's security interests must be a prerequisite for peace policy. The conflict over North Korea, for example, is unsolved because it is a vital corridor directly on China's flank - and the Americans have stationed their troops in South Korea.

You understand China!

We should definitely not become partisans of Beijing, but we are trying too little to better understand the interests of the other side. Many are not yet aware that the models of life that we have pursued in the West for the past 50 years will probably no longer work in the next 50. In China, some detours may not be taken. The accelerated introduction of electromobility is just one example here - and diesel cars play absolutely no role in China.

At present, China is a state where opposition leaders are repressed, the media are controlled and people are being executed.

All right. But if we want China to take over more from Europe - federal structures, separation of powers - it would be more plausible to initiate reforms in order to provide the better blueprints. There are things that we need to change and still don't do: from meat production to court cases that take forever.

  • Where is China going?
  • "The majority of Chinese like to invoke a strong state"
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