For the past decade, much has been written on how China is going to change, and perhaps lead, the world. We do not agree. True, China has sustained a level of economic growth—nearly 10 percent for over thirty years—that remains unmatched. But China is now at a critical inflection point in realms that go beyond those of economic development.

Lost in the telling of China’s dizzying array of infrastructure improvements, its huge foreign reserves, its growing status in international organizations, and the prevalence of its goods around the world has been one constant nonevent: there has been no change in its political system. The Chinese Communist Party (the CCP or “the Party”), founded in 1921 in emulation ...

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