America's China Fantasy - James Mann

5 posts

AmCon did a great review of Mann's book but it's not online, so here's a good article from a few years back that summarizes the main points.


America has been operating with the wrong paradigm for China. Day after day, U.S. officials carry out policies based upon premises about China's future that are at best questionable and at worst downright false.

The mistake lies in the very assumption that political change -- and with it, eventually, democracy -- is coming to China, that China's political system is destined for far-reaching liberalization. Yet the Bush administration hasn't thought much about what it might mean for the United States and the rest of the world to have a repressive one-party state in China three decades from now. For while China will certainly be a richer and more powerful country in 30 years, it could still be an autocracy of one form or another. Its leadership (the Communist Party, or whatever else it calls itself in the future) may not be willing to tolerate organized political opposition any more than it does today.

That is a prospect with profound implications for the United States and the rest of the world. And it is a prospect that our current paradigm of an inevitably changing China cannot seem to envision.

The notion of a China on the road to political liberalization has taken hold in the United States because it has served certain specific interests within American society. At first, in the late 1970s and the 1980s, this idea benefited the U.S. national-security establishment. At the time, the United States was seeking close cooperation with China against the Soviet Union, so that the Soviet Union would have to worry simultaneously about both countries; the Pentagon wanted to make sure the Soviet Union tied down large numbers of troops along the Sino-Soviet border that might otherwise have been deployed in Europe. Amid the ideological struggles of the Cold War, though, cooperation with China's Communist regime was politically touchy in Washington. And so the notion that China was in the process of opening up its political system helped smooth the way with Congress and the American public.

In the 1990s, after the Soviet collapse, the idea of a politically changing China attracted a new constituency, one even more powerful than the Pentagon: the business community . As trade and investment in China became ever more important, American companies found themselves repeatedly beset with questions about why they were doing business with such a repressive regime. The paradigm of inevitable change offered multinational corporations the answer they needed. Not only was China destined to open up its political system, but trade, the theology held, would be the key that would unlock the door. It would lead to political liberalization and to democracy, with or without the support of the Chinese leadership. Accordingly, no one outside China needs to do anything, or even think much about the subject. Why bother to protest a crackdown or urge China to allow political opposition if you know that democracy, by the inexorable laws of history, is coming anyway?

The trouble is, the entire paradigm may turn out to be wrong.

Read the rest:
Niccolo and Donkey

It seems that US policy planners anticipate the burgeoning Chinese Middle Class to become the vanguard of a regime liberalization. A historical argument for this view can be found here .

To further explore this topic, author Helen Wang answers questions about the new class. Here are some selected quotes:


1. The demand that China "democratize" is born out of the common Westerners' illusion that they are themselves a free people. Prisoners frowning on the conditions of the other prison.
2. Neither the US government or American business in China cares if China or any other country is democratic or not. It is all a matter of PR to address the childish questions of the above mentioned demographic that they bother to condemn human rights violations.
3. All the sourcing for these discussions say little to nothing of the real China, the heartland China, the filthy ant colonies, the slaves, who LOVE the old style Communist order. The modernizing and westernizing and freedomizing of the major coastline cities means nothing next to the interior. They don't give a shit about Nixon, or Walmart, or owning a Toyota, or any of this. They'll keep the country tethered to its core, and Western analysts will go on ignoring them as though Hong Kong and Shanghai are a gauge of the direction the nation's taking.

Niccolo and Donkey
Where does their power manifest itself? How do they compete with the increasingly wealthy middle class and corrupt party officials?

Taxes, pitchforks, bodycount, that they are the producers, the crop growing factory assembling folk, that the Chinese family with internet connection fears them, reveres them.
They don't compete with the middle-class or the party, the middle-class and party are the tagalongs who make their bread on drone-sweat.
The relationship between real China and the Chinks with grocery stores.