Still Waiting for Chinese Democracy
It’s clear that China is not lurching toward democracy. Understanding why this is so requires poking some holes in underlying Western assumptions. One of the dominant assumptions is that economic liberalization will inevitably lead to political freedoms, yet China has grown ferociously for 30 years without sweating such inevitability. Another assumption, related to the first, is that China’s 100 million strong and growing middle class will demand political reforms once its material wealth has been satisfied. But few signs point to concerted political activism among Starbucks-drinking, BMW-driving, Guns N’ Roses-listening Chinese yuppies. A more recent assumption is that the Internet will act as a powerful tool to circumvent China’s ubiquitous censorship and organize massive grass-roots movements against the status quo. Aside from Internet-organized anti-Japanese demonstrations, the Web has yet to prove its utility for fomenting serious political opposition in China.