Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


This chapter aims to provide a concise review of reforms in different political institutions since China's reform and opening-up in 1978, and to analyze the progress, bounds, and agendas behind these reforms. We examine party-led reforms in the bureaucratic system, State Council, government agencies, legislature, judicial system, and rural politics, as well as changes and continuities in the Party elites' ideology of democratization and civil society–state relations. Along with political and economic reforms in the past three decades and as the process of state building gradually unfolds, the government has enacted more laws and regulations successfully. The Party has also transformed past administrative means into legal means with stronger leadership and governance. The Party's elites are gradually acknowledging the universality of democracy, although neither the adoption of Western context of freedom nor the establishment of liberal democracy in China is implied by such acknowledgement. The ultimate objective of the reforms is to drive the Party toward reclaiming its legitimacy. Currently, the paramount task is to strengthen party organizations and consolidate the Party's ruling capacity. This means that the Party may develop Singaporean-style authoritarianism and maintain its ruling position by laws and economic interests.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of contemporary China
EditorsWilliam S TAY, Alvin Y SO
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherWorld Scientific Pub
ISBN (Print)9789814350082
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Law, K.-y. (2012). Politics. In W. S. Tay, & A. Y. So (Eds.), Handbook of contemporary China (pp. 23-50). Singapore: World Scientific Pub.


  • Authoritarianism
  • Bureaucratic reform
  • Civil society
  • Democratization
  • Governance
  • Legitimacy
  • Party's leadership
  • Political reform
  • Rule by law
  • Rural politics


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