18 July, 2006

Chang: China Still Collapsing

The Korea Liberator (TKL) offers a sympathetic interview with Gordon G Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World and The Coming Collapse of China. Naturally, TKL focuses on events relating to the peninsula, although Chang also briefly reaffirms his belief that the Chinese Communist Party is collapsing.:

Coming-Collapse-STKL: 10. Lastly, let’s have another prediction on where China will be in, say, 10-20 years? A decentralized capitalist, democracy? An aggressive mercantile oligopoly? Or perhaps even fragmentation?

Chang: Or all of the above [laughter].

I don’t believe that the communist party will be ruling China very much longer. I think it will fall from power by the end of this decade. But my crystal ball is not clear enough to provide a specific answer as to what happens next. Over the long term, China will develop representative institutions and a free economy, but perhaps not in the time frame you mention.

I don’t think China will fragment, but I do see Taiwan becoming recognized as the independent state that it actually is today. But apart from that, China won’t fragment. There will be a great period of uncertainty and turbulence in China, but 10 years are not enough to produce a democracy and the free market.

AsiaPundit has both of Chang’s books and would recommend them. While AP does not fully subscribe to to Chang’s view that the CCP will collapse — particularly in such a short timeframe — a deep economic correction would not be a surprise. Although there is hyperbole, even six years after publication Chang’s text still well illustrates the fragility of the modern Chinese state and, moreover, offers a welcome antidote to China hype.

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by @ 8:49 pm. Filed under China, Asia, Coming collapse, East Asia, Northeast Asia, North Korea

14 Responses to “Chang: China Still Collapsing”

  1. China Law Blog Says:

    Chang is the guy who in 2001 predicted China would collapse in five years. Need we say more?

  2. horseman Says:

    Apres mwha, le deluge…What’d come after the communists in China if it fell and would things be better all around? Noone seem to have any good idea. Most of those China Threat analysts are just too fixated on political label, cannot see the Chinese for the commies so to speak. Communism is only a 20th Century phenonmenon, but Chinese expansionism have been around for thousand years long before.

  3. James J. Na Says:

    Chang is the guy who in 2001 predicted China would collapse in five years. Need we say more?

    That’s kind of a dismissive cheapshot.

    The CCP may yet collapse. Should that happen, Chang’s prediction will have been late, not wrong.

  4. James J. Na Says:

    I meant to say early, not late.

  5. James J. Na Says:

    We’re TKL, by the way, not “TKR.” Unless you are pronouncing the Asian way.

  6. James J. Na Says:

    One last thing: it’s Gordon “G” Chang, not C.

  7. myrick Says:

    Errors corrected James — and, yes, I do legurally mix-up certain consonants.

  8. China Law Blog Says:

    James — I don’t think it was a cheap shot, but I do wish I had
    read your blog before commenting. Had I, I probably would not
    have said what I did.

    I do think that someone who writes a book emphatically stating that
    China would have collapsed by now ought to be taken to task for that
    prediction. Too many writers (mostly in the arena of stocks) love
    to make such predictions, make their money of such predictions, and the
    make new ones when their old ones do not come to fruition.

    However, I will admit that Mr. Chang sounded extremely thoughtful and
    knowledgeable in your interview with him so I do wish I had not been so

    I apologize.

    PS — James, Nancy Leeson just did her new list of Seattle’s best sushi
    restaurants. You can find it online.

  9. mahathir_fan Says:

    “The CCP may yet collapse. Should that happen, Chang’s prediction will have been late, not wrong.”

    Its no use making a prediction that is late. Prediction has to be precise or at least associated with a degree of probability or uncertainty error.

    His prediction sounds like the rain man who predicts there will be rain soon. His prediction of course always come true because rain eventually falls, but too late to be relevant.

  10. mahathir_fan Says:

    Besides, as the world’s largest democracy, the Communist Party of course can the toppled. The next nationwide election will be held in 2008 and if there are enough independent candidates that win seats, then it is possible for them to win enough power at the NPC to elect a President. Then there will be a regime change.

    In the 2004 elections, people only started to get ‘warmed up’ and test the waters. In 2008, you will see more independent candidates fielding their names. See elections in China:

    I know a lot of people will disagree with my assessment, but this is like me in 1990 saying that China will soon be a capitalist nation. At that time, nobody would have believed me but I saw what was coming. I will also say this, China is using capitalism to achieve the goals of communism.

  11. James J. Na Says:

    Besides, as the world’s largest democracy, the Communist Party of course can the toppled.

    MF: I am going to get into yet another argument with you on why the CCP is not “the world’s largest democracy.” I only have so much patience.


    As you know, those who predict China will grow, grow, grow (seamlessly into a captialist democracy) are far greater in number. Chang is a good antidote for this.

    Of course, his prediction of the CCP’s collapse was premature, but he puts forth very well reasoned arguments about the fundamental structural weaknesses of the Chinese state under CCP.

    Remember that everyone (including the CIA) predicted the Soviet Union would go on and on. They were wrong… “The Fall” happened unexpectedly. There were, however, some who recognized early on the structural weaknesses of the Soviet Union.

  12. James J. Na Says:

    I meant “I am not going to” not “I am going to.”

  13. mahathir_fan Says:

    “As you know, those who predict China will grow, grow, grow (seamlessly into a captialist democracy) are far greater in number. Chang is a good antidote for this.”

    Most people believe what goes up must come down. But we need to know when it comes down. Its no good just knowing that it will come down at some point in the future. The first sentence of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guan Zhong offer this insight: The empire long divided must unite, long united must divide. So you expect China to unite and break up in cycles. This is China’s history. For example, there are also those also provide very sound argument on the impending collapse of the “Dollar economy”. I’m sure you have come across such readings. We all know it will happen some time in the future. Monetary history guarantee us that it will happen in the future. But unless one can pinpoint exaactly when that happens, its pretty much useless public info. You going to sell all your dollar denominated property and horde gold today? Or next year? Or 10 years later? Or 50 years later?

    “meant “I am not going to” not “I am going to.””

    No use. Nobody has yet been able to offer convincing evidence or argument how the Chinese Communist Party cannot technically lose at the elections and subsequently unable to elect a CCP president because they lost the majority.

    What about Iran, the largest democracy in the Middle East?
    And if you want to see for yourself how power in Iran ultimately belongs to the Iranian people therefore a democracy:
    1) Supreme leader is elected by an Assembly of Expoerts. “Members of the assembly are elected by direct public vote to eight year terms.” Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assembly_of_Experts

    2) Presidential hopefuls must first be screened by the Council of Guardians. “Six members of the Council are clerics selected by the Supreme Leader, who serves as Iran’s Head of State. The other six members are lawyers proposed by Iran’s head of judicial branch (selected in turn by the Supreme Leader), and voted in by the Majlis.”

    3) President of Iran: Directly voted in by the people. Voter turnout during the last electino was 60%. Ahmadenjad narrowly won it after fierce campaigning.

    By looking at the top positions in Iran, you can see that the people of Iran either vote directly for that position (President) or indirectly by voting for representatives who in turn cast their votes on their behalfs. Any position above, you can ultimately connect the dots back to votes casted by the people. So Iran is a democracy.

    Yet you still hear people talking about how America should bring democracy to Iran. It is already a democracy.

  14. horseman Says:

    Communism only sound wonderful as an ideal, there just aren’t enough honest selfless people around to make it work in reality. Those species are an acute deficiency especially for China.
    Dictatorship on the other hand is a glorious Chinese tradition; communist dictatorship have
    become increasingly redundant.

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