From the Thirteenth to the Fourteenth Party Congress: Promises and Challenges of the PRC's Economic Reform, the ROC's Political Democratization and China's National Reintegration

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, University of Richmond


The thirteenth party congresses of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) were arguably the most important vantage points in contemporary Chinese political history. They symbolized an apex of reformist political currents in the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, respectively. The congresses ushered in a period of unprecedented change and uncertainty, hope and despair. Many analysts' earlier euphoria, however, gave way to sober reassessment, as each polity encountered tremendous challenges. In particular, the Tiananmen Massacre served as a rude awakening to the seemingly irresolvable tension between economic reform and political reform. By contrast, Taiwan's further democratization has opened a Pandora's box of political "untouchables" such as national identity, sub-ethnic conflict, and independence aspiration. Many noteworthy developments are still unfolding, the implications of which are not yet clear to us. But as Thomas B. Gold suggests, "the status quo is not static," these significant events necessitate our reconceptualization of the political systems and the state-society relationship within each polity, as well as the repercussions of these events on Mainland-Taiwan relations.