Apparently, in the last interview he gave before he died, Zhao Ziyang compared the modern Communist Party to the Empress Dowager Ci Xi.
This may not mean much to a western audience, but Zhao couldn't have said something more inflammatory if he yelled "Mao Sucks!" while burning the little red book. The Dowager Empress was so incredibly repressive and corrupt, she makes Louis XVI look like a liberal-minded reformer by contrast. Because her brutal, corrupt, yet weak rule coincided with China's contact with the west, China was basically dissected by European colonialism. Meanwhile, Japan was graced with a much stronger imperial ruler during it's period of contact, and quickly adapted and within 40 years was beating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.
There was a similar moment in Chinese history, where the emperor began what is now known as the 100-days reform, but this was killed in it's crib by Ci Xi. Some have argued that the reformers were too ambitious anyway, and the reforms could never succeed. That's a harder call to make - and I'm late for class, so I'll have to leave speculation for later.