Four decades have passed since the 1949 Communist Revolution divided China into two political entities. These culturally similar polities adopted different ownership systems and divergent development strategies in their early decades, but they have witnessed nearly identical elite transformations and convergent social transitions in recent years.
At their recent respective 13th party congresses, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) both promoted a great number of new leaders who can be identified as “technocrats” to top Party positions. In the Mainland, this new group of leaders has only recently come to power, while in Taiwan it emerged at the beginning of the 1970s and has continuously increased in number since then. This is a new generation of leadership, whose socialization, educational background, political experience and value orientation differ significantly from those of the old elite.
Parallel to this leadership transformation, a profound social transition has also occurred in both Mainland China and Taiwan. The Chinese people in both places have made great economic achievements and have moved rapidly from isolationism towards mercantilism. This is particularly obvious in Taiwan, but it can be seen to a lesser degree in the Mainland. Less noted, but equally significant, has been the change in their political systems. In Mainland China, although the June Fourth Incident (1989) has impeded the momentum of political reform, the relationship between state and society has been significantly altered. It seems that political reform, which includes institutionalization, decentralization and liberalization, will continue its zigzag but progressive journey.