As Hu Jintao visits Washington, China continues to persecute Christians,
enforce the one-child policy, and lock up dissidents. And don’t forget its
relentless military buildup.
A rich China — contra the Washington policymaking establishment
— is not turning out to be a free one. But as long as we remain
in thrall to the myth of China’s “peaceful evolution,” we will be
incapable of defending ourselves against Beijing’s increasingly
It is a Western conceit, applied by presidents from Nixon onwards to China,
that more wealth means more freedom. President George W. Bush in 2005
enunciated the typical Washington view: “As China reforms its economy, its
leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it
cannot be closed. As the people of China grow in prosperity, their demands
for political freedom will grow as well. By meeting the legitimate demands
of its citizens for freedom and openness, China’s leaders can help their
country grow into a modern, prosperous and confident nation.”
The multinational corporations that seek profits in China continue to
promote this view. Their lobbyists continue to assiduously promote, to our
elected representatives and government bureaucrats, the view that China is
becoming more like us. All we need to do is bide our time.
This is so much ethnocentric nonsense. The reality is that as the Beijing
regime grows wealthier, it is becoming ever more despotic at home and
aggressive abroad. Dissidents who once would have been released following
Western appeals for clemency remain in prison. Fragile democracies in
Africa, Asia and Latin America are increasingly corrupted by China’s
moneybags foreign policy.
China’s leaders reject what they now publicly deride as “Western” values.
Instead, they continue to promote their own conception of man as subservient
to the state and possessing no inalienable rights. They are obviously
convinced that China can be rich and powerful, while remaining a one-party
And why shouldn’t they believe this, given the stellar performance of their
economic model over the past few decades? With their labyrinthine system of
trade barriers and their artificially undervalued currency they have rigged
the “free trade” game in their favor. We do nothing as Beijing pursues an
industrial policy that focuses on developing so-called “pillar” industries
and uses export subsidies and other unfair tactics to give them a
competitive advantage in world markets. In order to continue to compete,
multinational corporations now feel compelled to bow to Beijing’s demands
that they transfer their most advanced production technologies to China,
compromising their own futures.
The Chinese leadership has been further convinced of the superiority of
their economic system by the way that China has escaped the worst
consequences of the ongoing recession and continued to grow.
China remains bound to a uniquely totalitarian view of the state. Hu and
his colleagues remain determined not only to remain in power indefinitely,
but to have the People’s Republic of China replace the U.S. as the reigning
hegemon. All they need to do, as Deng Xiaoping once remarked, is “hide
their capabilities and bide their time.”
While we do nothing.