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China's Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation Paperback – March 2, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Provides one of the best accounts yet of the post-1989 reinvention of the Chinese Communist Party."--"Huffington Post"

"Fascinating study."--"Political Science Quarterly"

"A valuable addition to the debate on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the prospect of political change and societal stability in China. . . . A page turner, well researched and informative."--"Journal of Asian Stds"

"Fascinating study."--Anthony Saich"Political Science Quarterly" (04/22/2009)

Fascinating study. --Anthony Saich"Political Science Quarterly" (04/22/2009)"

From the Inside Flap

"Why has the Chinese Communist Party kept its grip on power while the former communist states of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have collapsed? And where is China heading? In these pages, David Shambaugh provides a much-needed intellectual framework for thinking about China's recent past and future."—J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. Ambassador to China, Indonesia, and Singapore

“To understand Chinese politics, one has to understand the complex and manifold role of the Chinese Communist Party. Shambaugh's book provides this much-needed knowledge and insight.” –Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center for Strategic and International Studies

“Unlike deductive or speculative Western discourse on the direction of China's political change, this authoritative book scrutinizes the Chinese Communist Party on the basis of its own discourse about other party-states as well as the way it applies these lessons in rebuilding efforts. The coverage of comparative communism is a tour de force, breaking exciting new ground in explaining the important debates over the Soviet Union. The analysis of the ideological and organizational rebuilding of the Party sets the standard for future writings on Chinese politics. With convenient summaries of a wide range of views by Western scholars, this book can serve as a text that combines an overview of the field with the author's clear point of view on China's future.”–Gilbert Rozman, Princeton University

"David Shambaugh's innovative investigation of how China understood the fall of European communism contributes an important new dimension to our understanding of the Chinese regime's own trajectory. Shambaugh shows how the lessons China's Communist Party took from the Soviet and other collapses helped to shape their reforms, which were aimed at avoiding the fatal errors of communist regimes elsewhere. This book reveals how well the Chinese learned their lessons, as demonstrated by the regime's carefully targeted adaptations and its consequent survival."—Andrew J. Nathan, co-author of China's New Rulers

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (March 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520260074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520260078
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Following the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, predictions that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was next became in fashion. While the "pessimists" have made careers predicting chaos, fissiparous dissolution or a military takeover in China, the "optimists" have argued that a democratic spring is just around the corner. In most instances, those prognostications were predicated on a monolithic CPP that is little more than a Chinese version of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).

In China's Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation, David Shambaugh, director of the China Policy program at George Washington University, argues that the CCP has been anything but complacent since the fall of the Soviet Union and that, above all, its principal objective has been to ensure its survival.

Little known to most, the CCP and the various academic centers that fall under its purview have expended a tremendous amount of intellectual capital studying the many variables that, combined, resulted in the collapse of the CPSU and other communist governments around the world. In fact, by looking at systemic causes (economic; political/coercive; social/cultural; international), Chinese analyses of what went wrong for the Soviet Union were far more thorough than Western accounts, which tended to see Mikhail Gorbachev as the principal cause of the CPSU's demise. In China's view, the Soviet apparatus had become far too atrophied, too top-heavy, not flexible enough and too dogmatic, while Gorbachev's intervention came too late, too fast, and in many ways was misguided, as it sought to emulate the Western model.
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Format: Paperback
Professor Shambaugh goes on great length to researching survivability of an authoritarian regime that has prospered for years in the Asia Pacific region.

For the previous two decades, a group of leading political specialists including Roderick MacFarquhar (Harvard University), Richard Baum and Susan Shirk (University of California), and Gordon G. Chang have predicted the fall or protracted stagnation of the China's communist party (CCP). To them, the CCP is a fragile political institution and it is just a matter of time before the party is overthrown. In this book, Professor Shambaugh maintains that during and since the 1990s, the CCP has already instituted a series of massive and incremental reforms (P.181) to remould and strengthen its ideology, propaganda apparatus, governing capability, party apparatus and discipline, cadre competence and training, and leadership succession so that it can consolidate and sustain its rule in China (P.103). Unlike the demise of other communist regimes in Eastern Europe and Russia, the CCP can continue to survive because it has been very proactive to undertaking postmortem assessment of these cathartic events (P.41) and paying much attention to the study of other political parties in non-communist countries (P.92) such as People's Action Party's (PAP) in Singapore, Liberal Demoncratic Party (LDP) in Japan, and social democratic parties in UK and the European continent in order to appreciate what reforms it should institute in shoring up its legitimacy and ruling capacity.

Chapter 8 (P.161-181) covers an easy-to-understand but comprehensive assessment of the survivability of the CCP.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Shambaugh has provider the reader an excellent book to grasp the ongoing transformational economic and political changes inside the People's Republic of China. I enjoyed reading it along with others as I prepare to visit Asia this summer for the first time.

One of the more interesting parts of the book is the detailed descriptions provides as to how the Chinese "Think Tanks" viewed the changes in the Soviet Union and Europe in the late 1980's and 1990's. It is even more interesting to seek to understand how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to incorporate change into the party.

The reaosn I wanted to read this book (and I do recommend it to those interested in contemporary Chinese politics) is to better understand the United States relationship with the Chinese government. While the balance of trade between the United States and China favors the latter; and, the debt instruments be issued by the US Treasury are being purchased rapidly by the Chinese interests, it is time every thinking American serioulsy ponder the American-Chinese relationship as never before.

I am taken aback by the Chinese drive into science and technology in the 21st Century, I am concerned that America will soon find itself behind the Chinese in a human space program with the next footprints on the moon being Chinese. A recent MIT study recommended cooperation instead of competition between US and China space interests. This book provides a little more context to think about our national relationships.
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