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Has the endgame of Chinese communist rule really begun?

March 19, 2015 by Blog Editor

David Shambaugh, professor of political science at George Washington University as well as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution recently dropped a bombshell last week by predicting in a Wall Street Journal article that “the endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun”.


To Shambaugh, five reasons – fleeting of corrupt assets abroad, increasing repression on freedom of speech, lack of cohesiveness amongst party members, widespread corruption inside the party-state and the military, and a series of systematic traps resulted from China’s decades of economic reform will finally lead to the collapse of the Chinese regime.

Heated response

The argument has sparked heated responses from scholars and other China watchers.

A number of scholars agreedwith  Shambaugh on the argument that China’s rapid economic growth in post-reform period has seen serious cracks in the C.C.P. regime emerge.

For example, Zhao Suisheng, professor of politics from Denver University noticed how China’s “more than three decades of market-oriented economic reform under the one-party rule” has created “a corruptive state capitalism in which power and money forge an alliance” during his interview with China File.

Ho-fung Hung, associate professor in sociology at John Hopkins Universit,y also agreed that cracks inside the regime have indeed emerged by referring to the party’s history of internal political conflict, the crisis of Xi’s political legitimacy and the increasing accumulated debt produced alongside with China’s rapid economic growth. 

However, these scholars cast doubt on whether these accumulated pressures will lead to a final collapse of Chinese Communist regime, or a society that gradually loses its dynamics to change under repressive control instead.

Sorry, America, China is NOT going to collapse

Many others preferred to deny Shambaugh’s assumption in a more assertive manner. Chen Dingding, scholar of political science at Macau University wrote an article titled “Sorry, America: China is NOT going to collapse” as a rebuttal.

He challenged Shambaugh’s argument by suggesting that most of his collapsist thesis has nothing new to offer and lacks of logical grounds. He believed that “Instead of a quick collapse, a mighty, confident, assertive, and authoritarian China will be around for quite a while”. Unsurprisingly, state media the Global Times also criticized Shambaugh’s point of view by warning the audience that the article indicated “even the most moderate American scholars are hoping for China’s collapse – no need to mention those conservative hardliners”.

Thanks to Professor Shambaugh for bringing about this interesting debate, even though consensus on the future of the Chinese regime could never be reached on absolute terms.

Such debate at least showed that many China scholars, no matter what views they are holding, have been known a fact for a long time: China needs to be prepared for crisis as the phase of its takeoff ebbs.

By Shirley Zhang 


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