Happy Subjects No More

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the coronavirus prevention and control work at Anhuali Community in Beijing, China, February 10, 2020. (Xinhua via Reuters)
As the coronavirus continues to spread, the Chinese people reevaluate their social contract with the Communist Party

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE A fter the Chinese government cracked down on the pro-democracy movement in 1989, the Chinese people in effect signed a social contract with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Nothing was officially written down, but the terms have been well understood: The people would accept limited rights and freedom in exchange for the prosperity and stability the CCP promised to provide.

For several decades, the social contract has seemed to work well for both sides. China’s GDP per capita rose from $310 in 1989 to $16,186 in 2018. Many Chinese cities have been transformed from economic backwaters to commercial and industrial centers with lots


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