http://www.nbr.org - NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

China in the 1990s: Prospects for Internal Change

Harry Harding

The massive demonstrations that swept across Beijing and scores of other major Chinese cities in the spring of 1989 provided graphic evidence that China is facing its most serious economic and political crisis sing the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. Once seemingly securely embarked on the communist world's most successful course of economic reform, China now appears enshrouded in repression, confusion, and instability. This paper assesses that prospects for China in the 1990s, first by reviewing the origins, then by assessing the efforts being undertaken by the present leadership to restore the regime's stability and legitimacy, and finally by identifying the alternative scenarios that China might follow in the coming decade. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of China's domestic developments for U.S. policy towards Beijing.