Wednesday, February 07, 2007

We Built This City

[posted by Callimachus]

Will communist authoritarianism in China be able to suck in, and neutralize, the freedoms and democratic urges it has unleashed with the nation's newfound economic freedom and struggle toward prosperity? The way, say corporate record labels in the 1960s gripped and vampirized the youthful rebellion embodied in rock music?

Ying Ma, a student of modern China writing at the Hoover Institution, thinks so. The bad simile about corporate rock is all mine, though.

International peace and security in the twenty-first century will depend in no small part on the future of China and its relations with the world. Peaceful democratization in China will not serve as a guarantee for peace, but it will offer much, much better prospects. Given the tremendous stakes involved, the United States should reconsider the many misplaced assumptions underpinning its China policy. It should recognize the tenacity and resilience of Chinese authoritarianism and relinquish the hope that such authoritarianism will simply and inevitably wilt in the face of U.S. wishes. It should better understand how such authoritarianism adapts to, co-opts, and compartmentalizes market forces and their various accompanying liberal attributes and find better solutions for countering it.

Perhaps one day, freedom for 1.3 billion Chinese citizens will arrive, but until then promoting liberation from the chains of Chinese communist authoritarianism will remain a slog. The United States should start slogging much more seriously today.

China. Oy. No wonder Americans are nostalgic for the time when we could read about something big, bad, and complicated happening out there in the world and think, "thank God we don't have to do anything about that."