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Reading - Authoritarian Impermanence

Political Science
Course Code
Jeffrey Kopstein

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Authoritarian Impermanence
Even though the regime claims to be a Chinese form of democracy, it admits that its author ity has never
been subject to popular review and is never intended to be
-The regime is branded as an expedient, something temporary and transitional needed to meet the
exigencies of the time
Democratic regimes also face disappointment and frustration, but they confront no rival form that
outshines them in prestige
The regime is willing to change in any way that helps it to stay in power, but is unwilling to relax the ban
on autonomous political forces
Regime change will likely occur through some kind of rupture, if at all
Chinas transition will not resemble the Soviet Unions for several reasons:
- It is not in an arms race it cannot afford
- It is not overextended in a secur ity rivalry with the United States
- Its minority populations are only 5 or 6 percent of its demographic makeup, not more than half
- It is not constitutionally structured as a federation whose units have the right to secede
Its most likely for m of transition remains the model of Tiananmen, with three elements coming together:
-A robust plurality of disaffected citizens (i.e. unemployment, environmental disaster)
-A catalytic event that sends a signal to scattered social forces that the time has come to ris up
-A split in the leadership that renders the response from the top uncertain or weak and allows the
challenge to snowball
The regime considers itself vulnerable by its efforts made to prevent these three elements from emerging
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