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The Life of the Party

The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China

Chinese democracy: voting in Guangdong Province, China, March 3, 2012.

In November 2012, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held its 18th National Congress, setting in motion a once-in-a-decade transfer of power to a new generation of leaders. As expected, Xi Jinping took over as general secretary and will become the president of the People's Republic this March. The turnover was a smooth and well-orchestrated demonstration by a confidently rising superpower. That didn't stop international media and even some Chinese intellectuals, however, from portraying it as a moment of crisis. In an issue that was published before the beginning of the congress, for example, The Economist quoted unnamed scholars at a recent conference as saying that China is "unstable at the grass roots, dejected at the middle strata and out of control at the top." To be sure, months before the handover, the scandal surrounding Bo Xilai, the former party boss of the Chongqing municipality, had shattered the CCP's long-held facade of

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