Is China's communist party doomed?

These questions are by no means the products of idle minds. By many measures, the party’s rule is about to enter a decade of systemic crisis. Having governed China for 63 years, the party is approaching, within a decade, the recorded longevity of the world’s most durable one-party regimes — the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union (74 years), the Kuomintang in Taiwan (73), and the Revolutionary Institutional Party of Mexico (71). Like a human being, an organization such as the CCP also ages.

In addition, China’s rapid economic development has thrust the country past what is commonly known as the “democratic transition zone” — a range of per capita income between $1000 and $6000 (in purchasing power parity, PPP). Political scientists have observed that autocratic regimes face increasing odds of regime change as income rises. Chances of maintaining autocracy decrease further once a country’s per capita income exceeds $6000 (PPP). China’s has already reached $8500 (PPP). And nearly all the autocracies in the world with a higher per capita income are petro-states. So China is in an socioeconomic environment in which autocratic governance becomes increasingly illegitimate and untenable. Anyone who is unconvinced of this point should take a look at Chinese Weibo (or microblogs) to get a sense of what ordinary Chinese think of their government.

Thus, the answer to the question of the durability of one-party rule in China is clear: its prospects are doomed.