So, it would appear that the Chinese government and the Charter 08 dissidents do agree on one thing: a dialogue between the two sides is not going to happen. Absent that option, will there be a mass social movement. Could it topple the communist government? . . . is 2009 the year that China's government collapses? Or is it just another year in which there will be a crackdown of a mass uprising? Because those may be the only two options.
This argument only makes sense in the same way the average Robin Williams film makes me laugh: not very much. The original Charter 77 came out when the economic decline of the communist nations of Eastern Europe was already very much in effect, and the reaction of the Czech government was harsh - but even then the Czech Communist party (supported by the Soviets) remained in firm control for another 11-12 years. Charter 08 has come out at a time when the Chinese growth in GDP looks to be slowing, but is still likely to be greater than 8% this year. The CCP has responded to it by arresting a few of the drafters and otherwise ignoring it completely. No doubt if it does start to receive attention, they will do their best to distract people with the kind of antics we saw directed against France this year. A mass movement is equally far off. There is no reason to believe anything other than that China is a long way from being rid of the communists.
I could go on, but exiled dissident Wan Runnan did a much better job of explaining why the CCP is not likely to disappear any time soon in his 2006 article "Why The Chinese Communists Are Not Doomed To Finish Yet". Here's his summing up (trans. by ESWN):
1. From the lessons of the former Soviet Russia and eastern Europe, the Communist Party is more firm and clear about suppressing the opposition;
2. After forming alliances, the Communist Party has established a relatively stable international environment;
3. The continuous economic development has provided adequate resources for improving their ability to govern;
4. Under the pretext of "we won't argue," the Communist Party has actually totally abandoned their former ideology;
5. The Communist Party has become a political party that represents wealthy people and the social elite. This newly created middle class is the foundation of stability in Chinese society today;
6. The confirmation of their model for power succession has eliminated the concerns about their ability to maintain government.
It is said that the existence of something includes two aspects: the existence of the spirit and the existence of the body. Then, in terms of spirit, the Communist Party no longer exists. It is finished because it has killed itself. In terms of body, it is still there but without a soul. They can now speak of "being based on people" and "eight honors and eight shames", but most of these spiritual resources can be readily found in the governing philosophy of various Chinese rulers in history. In the predictable future, I do not see any likelihood for a sudden collapse of the Chinese Communists.
The CCP isn't going away any time soon, because it no longer believes in communism, because it has co-opted the leading elements of society, because it has muzzled all potential sources of opposition, and because its policies have allowed economic growth on a scale never before seen.