By Fareed Zakaria
China scholars have noted in recent years that the Communist Party is deeply concerned about its legitimacy and grass-roots appeal. That led many to believe it would address these issues by opening up its political system, with political reforms that would accompany economic reforms. Instead, it appears that the party is choosing older, Mao-era methods of crackdowns, public confessions and purification campaigns.
Over the past 30 years, the Chinese Communist Party has extraordinary accomplishments to its credit. In the past decade alone, the average person’s income has close to quintupled, and the country now has the world’s second-largest economy. But perhaps because of this success, many of the challenges China faces are ones in which economics cannot be separated from politics. Addressing concerns about pollution, for example, means slowing industrial growth. Moving toward a more sustainable development model means taking money from state-owned — and politically connected — companies.