The essay “Authoritarian Resilience” by Andrew Nathan has summed up four criteria in the “concept of institutionalization” that enable the survival of CCP regime, “ increasingly norm-bound nature of its succession politics,” “increase in meritocratic as opposed to factional considerations,” “differentiation and functional specialization of institutions,” and “establishment of institutions for political participation and appeal that strengthen the CCP’s legitimacy among the public at large”(7).
By the end of the Tiananmen crisis of 1989, people in the international arena suspected the fall CCP; however, it went the other way in reality, China under CCP flourished. The first reason allowed the survival of the CCP regime is the establishment of succession regulations and rules that have prevented chaotic leadership transition. From previous painful lessons from the history, leaders in office now may fulfill their allotted term, and have learned not to overstay their welcome. Leaders no longer appoint their successors as Mao and Deng did, and “military exercised no influence over the succession” (9).
The secret Politburo resolution of 1987 that resulted in hundreds of death in Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 is also abolished to prevent intervention from retired elders (9). Social and political stability between the leadership transitions is achieved in attribution to these “norms-bounded succession politics” (7). Secondly, another reason that contributed to the resilience of CCP authoritarian regime is the increase in office appointment based on merits rather than on position and personal loyalty.
According to Nathan’s writing, this process was initiated during the Deng’s idea of promoting “cadres around the age of 40 who were ‘revolutionary, younger, more educated, and more technically specialized”(10). By promoting those who are best capable rather than the position promoted neutrality within the government branches, resulting in “careers of rising stars have been relatively unperturbed by factional turmoil at the top”(11).
This contributed to a more balanced and higher morale government, which lead to less centralized government in decision-making. Thirdly, the modernization of the state through “separation of responsibilities and spheres of authority” brought about a “growing sense that interference would be illegitimate”(11). This criterion encouraged China to be a more autonomous country.
By separating the CCP from the government avoided unnecessary interference through corruption and power buse measures in the state business from the Party’s power. This prevented predominance of personal power over institutional norm happened during the Mao and Deng’s era. Last but not least, CCP managed to restore and strengthened its legitimacy “from the low point of 1989” of the “post-Tiananmen period” when the “regime relies heavily on coercion to repress political and religious dissent” in means of establishment of institutions (13).
These institutions created by the CCP provided a channel for the civilians to express their concerns and desires to the state, allowing the people to believe their voices are heard. This diminished the chance of group protests by encourage individuals to raise to voice; and they channel the civilian’s dissatisfaction towards a specific person or department in the government, instead of the CCP, and thus rehabilitated their legitimacy.