Whether China will undertake political reform, which is broadly defined here as institutional changes that rationalize bureaucracy, strengthen the rule of law, expand political participation, and protect human rights, has been one of the most important issues facing policy- makers in China and the West ever since China began its economic reform in 1979. Many Western policy-makers expected that, as China becomes more wealthy and integrated into the global economy, the combination of social change especially the growth of the middle class), political evolution (the emergence of a new and perhaps more forward- looking elite), and economic-technological transformation (expanding private sector and access to information) would foster political liberalization
in China.

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