On these pages on July 1, two prominent China watchers — David Shambaugh (“China’s Communist Party at 90”) and Minxin Pei (“Great party, but where’s the Communism?”) — analyzed the failures and challenges of the party as it faces a major leadership transition in 2012. Eric X. Li, a venture capitalist in Shanghai and a doctoral candidate at Fudan University’s School of International Relations and Public Affairs, joins the debate.
The Chinese Communist Party has been running the largest country in the world for 62 years. How has it done?
We all know the facts: In 1949 when the Communist Party took over, China had been mired in civil wars and dismembered by foreign aggressions; its people had suffered widespread famine; average life-expectancy was a mere 41 years. Today, it is the second largest economy in the world, a great power with global influence, and its people live in increasing prosperity; average life expectancy has reached 74 years.
But the assessment has to go deeper than that, for reasons none other than the apparent discomfort, if not outright disapproval, Western political and intellectual elites feel toward the Communist Party’s leadership. Five misconceptions dominate the Western media’s discourse on China. These misunderstandings need to be debunked by realities.
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Eric X. Li is founder and Chairman of the Equinox (Chunqiu) Institute in Shanghai and co-founder of Dulwich College China, Mr. Li also serves on the Board of Directors of China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai.