China’s Changing of the Guard: The Problem of State Weakness

Issue Date January 2003
Volume 14
Issue 1
Page Numbers 36-42
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While most of those who advocate political reform in China focus their attention overwhelmingly on how to restrain state power from becoming too intrusive, this essay puts forward an alternative strategy of political reform—democratic state building. It starts with a belief that the presence of an effective state is a prerequisite for democracy. However, it finds that China is currently suffering from a severe governance crisis. Given the circumstances, it would be suicidal for the country to undermine or weaken its state institutions in the name of pursuing democracy. Rather, democratic reformers should make efforts to strengthen state capacities in the course of democratization.