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


The major components of 1980s political reform emphasized collective leadership, the re-establishment of the party Secretariat to implement party policy and to train a group of senior-level successors, the strengthening of the government apparatus to enable it to share more power and responsibility for the development of the reform program, and the removal of the military from a major and sustained role in politics. The introduction of direct elections and multiple candidates for people's congresses up to the county level broadened public participation in China's governmental and political processes. Also, the electoral process provided an expanded forum for assessing both the potential and the shortcomings of party reform policies. The intent to involve the public in the process of identifying and resolving problems that emerge in implementing the reform program also was extended to vocational groups. For example, workers' congresses were given increased leeway to examine, debate, and discuss the policies being carried out in factories and even to evaluate the performance of factory managers. Even though the governmental and vocational groups had no direct political power, their new public voice on reform elevated the political process at least one step above the secret, closed channels of the Maoist era. In institutionalizing the reform debate, the party also developed a more efficient means for shaping and channeling public debate.

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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