The statement by the author that “‘What the Cultural Revolution did was to teach the Party not to trust its own people’”, does not seem to be a correct characterisation of the Party’s official line. The party’s official line on the key lessons from the Cultural Revolution has been to prevent excessive personal power and authoritarian at the expense of collective leadership style, at all levels, particularly at the very top level of party leadership. It was Mao’s huge popularity with the people and with people’s trust through the revolutionary struggle against Guomingdang regime led by Jiang Jieshi and the establishment of the PRC that made it possible for Mao to launch the Cultural Revolution in the mid 1960s.
However, personal power has the power of addiction, not just in China but also in the west (e.g. JH’s stay as the prime minister until he lost his seat and the changes to prime ministership in the past few years in Australia, as good examples), even though the Communism system has made it much easier to occur. The person, whoever is on the top, would like to continue that power.
Having said that, China has developed and established a system of power transition at the party’s very top, as the past three transitions indicate. It will still be a long way to go for China to have a complete system where power transition is not just a matter for the elites but the people to have a true and more effective democratic voice in deciding who will be the leader or in the leadership team.
No system is perfect and that is why we have see the Trump factor in the USA now and surprises many people have and have expressed worldwide.
The above mentioned changes in the prime ministership in Australia, in conjunction with the difficulties for the government to carry out much needed reforms to further raise living standard and improve equality, also reflect some shortcomings in the west system.
China is still searching for an effective and stable system of governance. How long it will take to have it is a question of interests by many.