Professor Minxin Pei analyzes the options facing the Chinese Communist Party:
…it appears that what informs the political thinking of China’s new leadership is the experience of the late-Soviet regime. In particular, three different leaders and their policies apparently weigh heavily on the minds of the new occupants of Zhongnanhai. Having endured a decade of political stagnation amid rapid economic growth, China’s new leaders are obviously not in a mood to try another version of the Brezhnev model, the essence of which is pretending to govern while doing nothing in reality. Yet, aware of the enormous risks of introducing democratic reforms into a sclerotic political system, they abhor the radical Gorbachev model even more.
Their problem is that the other roads lead to nowhere and eventually they will be forced to embrace democratic reform. Rather than rejecting the Gorbachev option, the CCP should analyze the process and look for ways to minimize the disruption. Gradual transition to a central governing council of 7 to 9 elected officials representing all major political parties, with the CCP initially holding the majority of seats, seems the lowest risk alternative.