Wall Street Journal Asia, March 9-11, 2007
Promoting democratization under authoritarianism is hard work. Americans often behave as if democracy will blossom at the snap of our fingers. As the daily violence in Iraq reminds us, though, reality is often much more grim and complicated than our most fervent wishes.
Away from the birth pangs of democracy in Iraq, democracy has not blossomed in another country where Americans said it would: China. For more than a decade, Washington has declared that political liberalization leading ultimately to democratization in China would be decidedly in America’s–and the world’s–interests. From President Bill Clinton’s policy of “constructive engagement” to President George W. Bush’s call for China to become a “responsible stakeholder,” the United States has maintained that a China headed down a democratic path–even as it amasses military, political and economic might–would offer the best hope for peace, prosperity and cooperation.
China, however, appears immune to U.S. wishes.
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Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal Asia © 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Policy Review, February/March 2002
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, numerous Chinese web users gloated in chat rooms over America’s national tragedy. Declaring that the attacks were payback for America’s imperialistic foreign policy, they rejoiced at the sight of the “world’s policeman” being dealt a colossal blow. To be sure, these Chinese were not the only ones who displayed little sympathy for America’s grief. Most notably, Palestinians in the West Bank celebrated by passing out candy to children and dancing in the streets.
Yet gloating from the Chinese remains deeply disturbing, as these are the very people on whose behalf U.S. policymakers have claimed to seek freedom and democracy in the past 12 years. That the gloating comes from the Chinese internet generation is even more unsettling, for this small but rapidly growing population has been widely hailed by the Chinese and U.S. governments as the bright future of a more modern, more open, and more liberal twenty-first century China. At this time of persistent national soul-searching about the nature and merits of U.S. foreign policy, a close examination of the grave disconnect between Washington and the people of China is sorely needed.
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