The Reform Fantasy

James Mann has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about prospects for political reform considering the Chinese government’s behavior in the run-up to the Olympics:

China’s actions over the past year — its tight controls on dissent, the detentions of dissidents, restrictions on entry into China, crackdowns in Tibet and Xinjiang, the obsession with staging a protest-free Olympics — have shown that China’s authoritarian political system is not opening up.

On the surface, this may sound like an old story: China’s Communist Party leadership didn’t tolerate political opposition 10 or 20 years ago, and it still doesn’t today. What’s new here? Yet the run-up to the Olympics does mark a milestone in China’s relations with the rest of the world: China has reached the point where it no longer seeks to mollify or accommodate the international community’s expressions of concern about human rights. Instead, China can now repress political dissent while virtually ignoring what the rest of the world may think.

To see the change, consider how the underlying dynamics have shifted over the past 10 years.

Read a CDT interview with James Mann about his book The China Fantasy.