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China: The Politics of Modernization
Country Study > Chapter 11 > The Political Process > The Politics of Modernization


In the years following the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Committee Central in 1978, certain key reforms set in motion a process of systemic change in society. Successful continuation of the reform program depended on the ability of China's senior leaders to respond to the constant challenges encountered in implementing these changes. Although a significant portion of the political system underwent major reform, a central question remaining in the late 1980s was whether or not the party could maintain stable central leadership. There was reason to question whether a consensus could be built within China's top leadership circles without the presence of a leader of the stature of Deng Xiaoping. With major bureaucratic interests to contend with and satisfy, and differing ideological orientations within the top leadership, strong central direction seemed to be the basic requirement for continuing reform.

Data as of July 1987

Last Updated: July 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for China was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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