China at the Tipping Point? Authoritarianism and Contestation

Issue Date January 2013
Volume 24
Issue 1
Page Numbers 26-40
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This essay argues that despite the considerable resilience demonstrated by the Chinese authoritarian regime, its power experiences continuous atrophy. With the weakening of the totalitarian control imposed on Chinese society, the current stability-maintenance system has been decreasing in its effectiveness. Meanwhile, contentious activities within the civil society gain momentum, and grow in both frequency and complexity. Movements such as human-rights advocacy and political pluralism are traversing down a path toward a multilaterally coalesced resistance of authoritarian authority. The final part of the essay proposes and analyzes three possible trends of the development of social contentions in Chinese civil society.