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China's Pragmatic Approach to Modernisation

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The book studies China's record of modernization in its own terms. The course charted by the Chinese leadership has certainly produced remarkable successes. It is a journey of economic reforms based on pragmatism, and the same thinking is guiding the ongoing legal reforms. There is no denial that the leaders are reluctant to embark on radical political reforms that may unseat them. At the same time, one must be informed by the historical experience of the Chinese people. The havocs and sufferings associated with radical political changes have made them risk averse, and the ruling Communist Party of China is shrewd enough to exploit this feeling.

Based on empirical data on countries with similar income level, Peerenboom argues for democratic reform to occur after a certain level of economic development. This point is controversial but there is inadequate data to disprove him.

However, even with the limitation of one-party rule, there are a few areas where the CPC can do a better job in bringing China further along the road to modernization.

Affiliations: 1: East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore


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