In Wealth into Power, Bruce Dickson challenges the notion that economic development is leading to political change in China, or that China’s private entrepreneurs are helping to promote democratization. Instead, they have become partners with the ruling Chinese Communist Party to promote economic growth while maintaining the political status quo. Dickson’s research illuminates the Communist Party’s strategy for incorporating China’s capitalists into the political system and how the shared interests, personal ties, and common views of the party and the private sector are creating a form of “crony communism.” Rather than being potential agents of change, China’s entrepreneurs may prove to be a key source of support for the party’s agenda. Based on years of research and original survey data, this book will be of interest to all those interested in China’s political future and in the relationship between economic wealth and political power.
1. Introduction; 2. The party's promotion of the private sector; 3. Co-opting the capitalists; 4. Bridges and branches: the CCP's institutional links to the private sector; 5. Views on the economic, political, and social environments; 6. Private entrepreneurs in public service: political participation in China's formal political institutions; 7. The ripple effects of privatization; 8. Conclusion.
“Wealth into Power is a masterful exploration of the convergence of economic and political power in China. Carefully, lucidly, and convincingly, Bruce Dickson demonstrates that economic development in China has generated crony communism rather than demands for democracy though the cozy relationships between private entrepreneurs and party leaders come at huge costs in terms of corruption and inequality. This book should be widely read by anyone trying to understand contemporary China.”
Joseph Fewsmith, Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Boston University, and author of China Since Tiananmen
“In Wealth into Power, Bruce Dickson describes with remarkable clarity why it is that the economic advances in China will not lead to democratization. He lays out in detail how the Chinese Communist Party has co-opted the country’s entrepreneurs and has turned them into a force for preservation of the existing political order rather than as agents of political change. Dickson’s cogent book effectively rebuts the common assumption that China, with advancing wealth, will inevitably develop an independent civil society.”
James Mann, author of The China Fantasy and author-in-residence, Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
“Wealth into Power provides a penetrating analysis of the complex relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and China’s thriving private sector. In this ground-breaking study of the political orientations, social backgrounds, and survival strategies of Chinese private entrepreneurs, Bruce Dickson shows that China’s new capitalists, far from becoming a driving force for democratic change, have become part of the authoritarian order. By challenging the conventional wisdom about the relationship between economic development and democratization, Dickson presents a sobering political reality that has often been missed in the current discourse on China’s future.”
Minxin Pei, senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of China’s Trapped Transition
“Bruce Dickson’s superb new study is mandatory reading for all serious analysts of China’s socio-economic and political future. The study’s data are unique, the narrative is nuanced, the analysis is sophisticated, and the findings are sobering. Dickson has put his finger on a key actor in China political future, and finds evidence that the emerging business class is being effectively co-opted by the [Communist] party-state, rather than being proto-democratic agents of political change. A major contribution to our understanding of China’s political landscape.”
David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affiars, George Washington University & The Brookings Institution
“Based on original diachronic survey data and years of studying Leninst-style one-party systems, Wealth into Power expertly demonstrates that China’s capitalists represent the source of communist resilience rather than a force for political change. Once again, Bruce Dickson’s scholarship is a model of clarity, analytic fluency, and empirically-grounded conclusions. Anyone interested in the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and capitalists should read this book.”
-Kellee S. Tsai, Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, and author of Capitalism without Democracy: The Private Sector in Contemporary China
“The rapidly changing Chinese political economy places high demands on us to update our understanding of the business–government relationship and its implications for regime change. Wealth into Power is the rare empirical study that meets these demands. In it, Bruce Dickson meticulously follows up, with new surveys of private entrepreneurs and local officials, on conclusions from the 1990s. The new research confirms and strengthens previous arguments: over the past decade, Dickson demonstrates, the communist party has fairly successfully consolidated ‘crony communism’ in its strategic alliance with the country’s most vital economic group—‘red capitalists,’ whose interests and values are not proto-democratic. Wealth into Power provides strong empirical support for the provocative view of an adaptive and resilient communist party.”
Melanie Manion, Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Wealth into Power is a particularly rare kind of scholarship. In 2003, Dickson published Red Capitalists in China, based on a 1999 sample survey, interviews, and documentary research. Remarkably, the book reviewed here resampled the same areas in China and used basically the same questionnaire in 2004 as in 1999. This second set of results obviously allows for temporal comparisons, as well as the opportunity for further interviews and documentary research."
Perspectives on Politics, David Bachman, University of Washington
"[An] excellent study of the relationship between China's new group of entrepreneurs and the party-state system."
Pacific Affairs, Tony Saich, Harvard University
"… an important book that puts China on the map of general social science theories."
Journal of Asian Studies