A common theme here on the Stage is the need for pundits and analysts alike to have a better understanding of the internal structures, dynamics, and divisions of the Chinese Communist Party. As stated before, there are few human beings whose actions have so large an influence over the course of world affairs but receive so little public scrutiny as the members of the CCP. As such, I am always on the look out for media that helps illuminate the working processes of the CCP.
I am happy to say that I have come across two articles (both published in the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs) that do just that. While written in a rather dry and academic style, both of these essays outline important trends in the thought and practice of the modern CCP that are worth your consideration.
Cheng Li. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. 2009.
Heike Holbig. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. 2009.
The first of these articles details divisions among the fifth-generation leaders of the CCP. Li not only summarizes the basic “populist” vs. “princeling” divide of the CCP, but provides a good introduction to the changing demographics of prominent Party members, paying special attention to the rise of entrepreneurs and lawyers in the upper ranks. Also included is a brief discussion of the possibility of a “One party, Two Coalition” system.
Holbrig’s essay is contrarianism at its best. Many analysts are fond of boiling down the CCP’s popularity to China’s recent high growth rates; Holbrig attacks this stance with some vigor. Holbrig describes efforts of the CCP over the last few years to reinvigorate fervor for socialist ideology in both the Party and the populace. In doing so, Holbrig disabuses readers of the notion that the legitimacy of the CCP rests on nothing more than eight percent annual GDP growth.