Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Coming Collapse of China

Front Page interviews Gordon Chang author of The Coming Collapse of China:

As China gets more prosperous, it is becoming less stable. Senior Beijing officials now face the dilemma of all reforming authoritarians: economic success endangers their continued control. As Harvard's Samuel Huntington has noted, sustained modernization is the enemy of one-party systems. Revolutions occur under many conditions, but especially when political institutions do not keep up with the social forces unleashed by economic change. And as history shows us, nothing irritates a rising social class like inflexible political institutions. The most interesting trend about protests in recent years is not that they are becoming more frequent, getting much larger, or growing more violent. The most interesting trend is that we are now seeing middle-class Chinese, the beneficiaries of the last quarter century of progress, taking to the streets.

[...]

Unfortunately, positive change will not come as fast as it should, in part because we have created a set of perverse incentives. The Chinese engage in bad behavior. We reward them. So they continue their irresponsible conduct. We reward them still more. In these circumstances, why would they ever change?

So is our policy toward China succeeding? Not yet. Will it succeed? Yes, in the long term. But there may be no long term.
Lots more at the link. I think Chang may be a bit optimistic in predicting the collapse of Chinese Communism by the end of the decade, but his analysis seems fairly level-headed.

3 comments:

Dan Harris said...

Chang's analysis, at least as you describe it, is flawed. China is doing a great job at usurping its middle and upper classes (i.e. its urbanites). Only the rural poor are unhappy and revolutions are seldom led by the poor.

sonia said...

Make that never...

Actually, I think the rise of China will never materialize. The real emerging giant is India. Soon, it will have larger population than China and far larger economy...

I would have already happened a long time ago, if Nehru didn't cultivate socialism for so many decades...

Then again, if Red China just surrenders to Taiwan, their economy will be four times larger than the Unite State's....

Jack said...

if Red China just surrenders to Taiwan

That would be lovely wouldn't it? I have always said we should have a one-China policy ... provided that its capital is Taipei.