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Bruce Dickson, professor of political science and international affairs, discussed the politics of the CCP and its history of oppression and control as part of a look at his upcoming book.
A professor about to launch a new book on Chinese politics led a discussion on Thursday, explaining the evolution of the Chinese Communist Party regime and its impact on the future of the country’s democracy.
Bruce Dickson, professor of political science and international affairs, discussed the politics of the CCP and its history of oppression and control as part of a look at its upcoming delivered, “The Party and the People: Chinese Politics in the 21st Century.” Alyssa Ayres, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, moderated the Event, which was hosted by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies.
Dickson said that the CCP is centralized under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping and that it governs national politics, local government and private enterprises where CCP members are considered “supreme” in all institutions.
“He watches over society through a network of party cells, where party members are organized into small groups according to where they live and where they work,” he said. “These cells provide the eyes and ears of the party to monitor what is happening in society, in the workplace and in residential areas.”
He said his book focuses on how the party maintains control through a system of repression, which has resulted in the repression of democracy in Hong Kong and is often told through the persecution of ethnic minorities in China.
Dickson said that even though no one holds the authoritarian CCP regime accountable, the party still manages to meet the needs of the public to maintain its power and status as the ruling party in China. He said the CCP had responded to concerns about unpaid wages and workplace safety, pushing local officials to prioritize them in exchange for potential party promotions and hijacking nationwide protests that demand reform, which the party seeks to avoid.
“There is no doubt that the party uses repression in its approach to pursue these means further under Xi Jinping, but it also uses other tools to gain popular support such as responding to public opinion to varying degrees,” Dickson said.
Dickson said China has sidelined the need for Western democracy because of the CCP’s balance between repression and meeting the needs of the public. He said that while countries are supposed to adopt a democratic form of governance as their economy grows, China has been an exception to this rule.
But as the CCP improved economic living standards without ceding party control, Dickson said Chinese citizens began to suspect a transition to democratic reform.
“They don’t define democracy as confidence in elections, human rights, civil rights and civil liberties,” he said. “They see it in terms of policies that benefit societies and improve public welfare.”
Dickson said the failures in democracies like the United States with the Jan.6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol and the instability of other democratic governments, like the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic, added to the problem. reluctance of China to embark on a democratic transition. Dickson said that China is unlikely to embrace democracy due to the CCP’s involvement in building the economy and ensuring a higher standard of living for its people.
Dickson added that regime change in China would not guarantee democracy in the country because the fall of authoritarian regimes in countries like Egypt and those in Eastern Europe did not lead to democratization. .
“The promise or hope that the end of an authoritarian regime will lead to democracy just does not hold true in the examples of other countries,” he said.