The Rise of China's Middle Class and Prospects for Democratization
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA DEPT OF NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
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Since Deng Xiaoping instituted economic reforms under the reform and open policy in 1978, the Chinese Communist Party has overseen a gradualist approach to modernizing Chinas economy. A new Chinese middle class has emerged with Chinas economic reforms and economic growth. According to Seymour Martin Lipsets modernization theory, there is a strong relationship between socioeconomic development and the emergence of democratic politics accompanying the growth of an educated middle class that will demand democratization as a means to achieve more participation in politics. This thesis assesses the validity of Lipsets argument that socioeconomic development is likely to result in a democratic transition through the growth of a liberal middle class in the case of contemporary China. This assessment will determine how closely Chinas middle class fits Lipsets model, and whether Chinas middle class displays characteristics that suggest that Lipsets framework of democratization will hold true in China. Since spreading democracy around the world was reasserted as a long-range U.S. objective in the early 1990s, attention has focused on prospects for democratization in China. This thesis will help illuminate the political implications of Chinas growing middle class and argue that Chinas economic modernization does not guarantee democratization. This is important because some people in the West misinterpreted the origins of the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989 simply as a democracy movement, rather then as initially intended to address widely perceived bureaucratic corruption and rapidly rising inflation. Protests subsided in the aftermath of Tiananmen, and many Chinese did not react to the CCPs decision to restore economic stability by entrenching its control of the economy to control inflation.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law