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China's Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation Paperback – 3 Feb 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (3 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520260074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520260078
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 792,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"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)"

-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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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
You thought it was impossible to know what is going on in the Chinese corridors of power? Think again.

This book breaks new ground with detailed and in-depth research of Chinese-language sources. Unlike many China books, there's no recycling here as David Shambaugh delves into the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). So this is a book not for the casual reader, but for those who are deeply interested in finding out what drives China from the inside.

Conclusions? The Chinese leadership is trying to learn from its own and others' (e.g. the Soviets') mistakes, and create solid long-term policy to enable the CCP to hold onto power and to maintain the stability of the Chinese state. This means that the Party is paradoxically in a process of "atrophy and adaptation" allowing it to become "a new kind of political hybrid" - an "eclectic state" that cherry picks policies out of the failings and successes of other states.

Highly recommended for both amateur and professional sinologists.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Prof. Shambaugh dispels the myth that China has reformed its economy without reforming its politics. In fact, China has had plenty of political reform -- just not of a sort westerners like.

The Chinese Communist Party is not a sitting duck waiting for a peasants' revolt to topple it. Far from convincing the Party that they are on the wrong side of history, the collapse of the USSR has given them an instructive lesson in how to avoid the same fate. This is a book about about the lessons they've learned, and how they're putting them into practice to ensure a red future.

It is not a book about Chinese politics in general, nor even about the government, but more specifically about how the Party, as an organisation, has reinvented itself in the twenty years since the Tiananmen incident. (It was fascinating to read that New Labour was one of its role models!)

It's non-technical and an easy read -- you don't have to be a China scholar to enjoy it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Preimer on Chinese Transformational Politics 3 Mar. 2009
By Jack Kennedy Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of history, a little weak on the future. 5 Nov. 2015
By Christopher Low - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From my perspective as a non-specialist, I thought there was perhaps more history than I had hoped for and not enough analysis of the future of the Party.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone interested in the future of the CCP 12 Dec. 2012
By Ross Keener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether you are a "China Watcher" or not, you will get a lot from this fairly concise book. Shambaugh is one of my favorite China scholars.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ramiro Collazo 28 July 2015
By Ramiro C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love it...
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing New 30 Dec. 2009
By Skadden - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Shambaugh sets out to answer whether or not the Chinese Communist Party can survive? While the simple answer is yes, he is cautious about predicting what this future party or state will look like. In his own estimation, the major challenge for the CCP is in becoming "more of a transformational than a transactional party...[it must realize] how to remain relevant to society as a ruling party but also how to inspire and lead the nation in new directions" (169). In order to do this, Shambaugh suggests that the CCP might strengthen the National People's Congress or even the role of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress to add a greater voice for other parties within the government. He dismisses current suggestions that China is at a tipping point or stagnating, but never provides sufficient reasoning as to why he disagrees. His ultimate assessment is that, political reforms, like economic reforms, will occur incrementally.

The only thing David Shambaugh likes more than the word ossified, is ambivalence. Through the course of his work he is careful of rocking the boat when it comes to current conventions about China. He tells the reader that the answer to the party survival question: "is neither yes nor no but both" (177). This has the effect of causing the reader to feel cheated. When so many other China scholars like Minxin Pei or Roderick MacFarquhar are willing to make bold predictions, David Shambaugh is surprisingly quiet. Where he does make bold statements, they are often academic jabs, such as when he asserts that, "the China field in the United States seems to know more and more about less and less" (23). Shambaugh falls within the existing analysis of the CCP, rather than offering anything new. He agrees with Andrew Nathan, Alice Miller and Jing Huang, that the CCP is undergoing a "reinstitutionalization" (whatever that means) but takes eight chapters to get to that point. Still Shambaugh provides the reader with fascinating CCP memos and documents that require relatively little analysis. In the end his own cautiousness might serve him well. Predicting the future of a country of 1.3 billion is a near impossible task, and perhaps no author should be required to do so.
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