Why Beijing fails to correct mistakes before it's too late

Much discussion has accompanied China's recent decision to end its controversial one-child policy, now universally acknowledged to have been disastrous on almost every level. But few commentators have asked the broader and more provocative question: Why did the Chinese Communist Party ignore the mounting evidence, widespread popular protest and resistance, and prophetic warnings over the last three decades as it stuck to this mad policy?

For those who have watched the self-destructive behavior of the party since it took over China in 1949, the obstinate perpetuation of the one-child policy likely came as no surprise. Indeed, over the 66 years since it established the most powerful and enduring dictatorship in Chinese history, the CCP has demonstrated repeatedly its inability to correct its policy mistakes in time to avoid disaster, often with devastating consequences.

During the rule of Mao Zedong, from 1949 to 1976, the party's most notorious blunders included the Campaign to Suppress the Counter-Revolutionaries (1950), the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward Famine (1959-61), and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). In each case, as shown by historical research, the CCP's top leadership was from early on fully privy to the political and humanitarian disasters caused by its policies. Yet, the party's leaders did not change course. Instead, to prove their omnipotence and infallibility, they doubled-down and magnified those original mistakes.

After the death of Mao, to be sure, China was liberated from the excesses of a megalomaniac. But the CCP's habit to make -- and stick with -- consequential policy blunders has proved hard to shake. Besides the one-child policy, one could also cite the investment-driven growth strategy (the unsustainability of which was pointed out a decade ago), the neglect of the environment and social services, and a recent shift in foreign policy that has frightened most of China's neighbors and put the country on a collision course with the US

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