China is ready for democracy, but its ‘middle class’ is opposing it, writes Arthur Kroeber on Tuesday in the Financial Times.
In debates the emerging consumers and the Chinese governments most media depict both as opposing forces in the struggle for more democracy, but according to Kroeber they are actually on the same side, fighting against building more democratic institutions.
For democracy advocates inside and outside of China, the Communist party’s relative success in improving its governance capacity means that arguments resting on the a priori assumption of democracy’s superiority will fall on deaf ears. This is particularly true because the Communists’ programme especially benefits the natural constituency of a more open society. This is the so-called Chinese “middle class” – people in cities who have significant discretionary income left over after basic necessities are paid for.
That elite will only stop opposing democracy when it offers them stability in the long term, a guarantee they now get from the current regime. More at the Financial Times.
The writer is the Beijing-based managing director of Dragonomics, an economic research firm, and publisher of the China Economic Quarterly. If you are interested in having Arthur Kroeber as a speaker, do get in touch with us at the China Speakers Bureau.