Friday, June 20, 2008

China Options?

Guest commentary by Postmodern Conservative.

Even conservatives are divided on how to deal with China. Most are agreed that it is ruled by an oppressive regime, but they often part ways on how to remedy that. Can China be coaxed along through burgeoning capitalism into accepting a de facto western economic and political order? Or is this just appeasement? According to China expert Lloyd Richardson in The Policy Review (in a book review that was recently forwarded to me), those who benefit most from the controlled capitalism of Bejing are a tiny minority of urban Chinese, not the broad masses in the countryside. Moreover, these Chinese yuppies are entirely beholden to the Communist Party for their tenuous position. Quoting James Mann's book Soothing China, it is possible that in two or three decades "China will be wealthier, and the entrenched interests opposing democracy will probably be much stronger. By then China will be so thoroughly integrated into the world’s financial and diplomatic systems, because of its sheer commercial power, . . . there would be no international support for any movement to open up China’s political system." In conclusion, there may be no easy answers. But it does not help that, in Richardson's view, there has been no honest debate about China for decades.