Nicholas D. Kristof writes in the New York Times:
We also must recognize that informal pressures are becoming increasingly important. The most important figure in China-U.S. relations today isn’t the ambassador for either country, but Yao Ming, the basketball player — and David Stern, the commissioner of the N.B.A., is second. The biggest force for democratization isn’t the Group of 7 governments but the millions of Chinese who study in the West and return — sometimes with green cards or blue passports, but always with greater expectations of freedom. China’s rise is sustained in part by the way the Communist Party has grudgingly, sometimes incompetently, adapted to these pressures for change.
… That flexibility is one of China’s great strengths, and it’s one reason that the most important thing going on in the world today is the rise of China — in the Olympics and in almost every other facet of life.