Emergence of the Chinese Middle Class and Its Implications

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Asian Affairs: An American Review

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

The expansion of China's middle class since the late 1970s has inspired some political scientists to speculate that rapid economic growth and the ensuing rise of the middle class could constitute the basis for a democratic transition. This article analyzes the political implications of the emergence of the Chinese middle class and discusses how the Chinese Communist Party copes with the rising middle class. This article concludes that at present, the Chinese middle class quietly endorses the leadership in Beijing. Nevertheless, as economic growth continues, the middle class will not only grow in size but also may change its political attitude. Following the footpaths of its counterparts in the West and other Asian countries, the Chinese middle class may develop not only post-material lifestyle and values, but also play an important role in the struggle for democracy.