Political Reform and Regime Legitimacy in Contemporary China

  • Thomas Heberer (Autor/in)
  • Gunter Schubert (Autor/in)


While China's economic and social reforms have gained much attention internationally, the CCP regime's efforts at political structural reform (zhengzhi tizhi gaige) initiated by Deng Xiaoping have been widely ignored by China scholars so far. Political reforms that do not aim at abolishing one-party rule to the benefit of some form of Western liberal (multi-party) democracy are not taken seriously by most observers of China's modernisation process. This article hypothesizes that these reforms do actually affect regime legitimacy in a positive way and should therefore be carefully analysed in order to explain the "authoritarian resilience" of Communist one-party rule. It is argued that political reform in its limited sense of enhancing cadre efficiency and accountability (instead of empowering the demos vis-à-vis the state) may, indeed, help to effectively prolong one-party rule in contemporary China.