The bureaucratic system experienced a collapse in recent age, this enabled elites to enjoy a brief period being able to voice out their thinking. In the past, those in power implanted their thinking into the system and claimed theirs as the legitimate Chinese thinking, then blamed on others not adhering to it. The problem lied on those officials who regarded themselves as elites: being the winners of Imperial Examinations. As these people were in power, they could claim their thinking represented the legitimate thinking of Chinese culture. This is the case even today. Many who aspire to reform the society will join the establishment to become a part of the bureaucracy. The thinking like “to infiltrate the system” and “Only the winner following the established rules has the right to reform” is still prevalent even in modern Chinese society.
There is no hope for these reforms to succeed under this kind of thinking. Once you climb to the peak of bureaucracy, you become inseparable part of it.
There are always someone who senses the problems of the society and the system. By preventing them from joining together as a group and keeping them isolated, they will start to regard their own thinking as some kind of heresy and stay mute. Even they want to say something, they will hold their tongues due to his limited power.
Then, by making use their ambitions to reform the society, it is quite easy to attract them into the power structure. Just give them some power but unimportant posts. Just let them waste their lives on realizing partial and piecemeal ideals, to give up the struggle on real big issues. Just put them into some immaterial affairs which pose no threat to the structure.
These are the middle level civil servants whom we see in the bureaucracy. Just let them embrace the hope to reform by staying in the establishment, to exploit all their energies. When their time of retirement comes, they will come to realize their efforts are in vain: they can reform nothing except by being rewarded with a decent amount of pension, and finally become the hardcore supporters of the establishment throughout the rest of their lives.
Reforming the structure by joining it is the ambition of many. But the rate of success is near to zero.
In the western society, everyone with different thinking gets the opportunity to try his own way. Result will tell who the winner is. However, in the Chinese society, the mainstream ideology is too powerful to become hegemony. Even that thinking is full of flaws and mistakes, it can still sustain and crowd out the others by the backup by political power. People may have different views, but everyone is forced to take the same way, marginalizing the other possibilities.
Democracy and reforms can improve the society, but only in a long run. It is easy to destroy democracy and reforms: just to invent something harmful but irrelevant during the reform goes on, citizens will vent their anger on the reform itself, which in turn destroys everything.