The Weekly Standard: Toward a Free and Democratic China

Li Shanshan (Photo: Video Screenshot)

The Weekly Standard

Overhauling U.S. strategy in Asia

At the top of our next president’s task list will be rescuing American foreign policy from the wreckage of the Obama years. The prevailing headlines detail a grim litany of new threats, each one emanating from an Obama administration policy failure. From the expansionist barbarity of the Islamic State, to the collapse of Libya into warring factions, to Yemen’s degeneration into civil war and a terrorist safe haven, to unprecedented concessions that have strengthened Iran, to Russian adventurism forcibly redrawing Europe’s borders, to the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, the threat environment that the Obama administration is preparing to hand over to its successor is grave.

Not since the end of World War II has the American-led international system been under such severe strain from so many quarters. While the above threats all command attention, perhaps the greatest challenge to world order is the resurgence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It is the only nation that has the size, wealth, and ambition to credibly threaten U.S. global leadership and international stability. At stake is not only the national security of the United States but the future of the international system our nation helped create and has led for seven decades. In truth, they are almost inseparable. At the end of the Cold War, the late Samuel Huntington argued that only by remaining the dominant world player could the United States ensure the continuation of a liberal order. Thus, the challenge from China is not only geopolitical; Beijing is also ideologically hostile toward democratic capitalism and free societies.

Repression at work: The CCP assembles, March 8, 2015.

Our next president’s China policy needs to address the heart of the problem: The external assertiveness of the Chinese Communist party (CCP) emanates from its internal repression. As Aaron Friedberg has pointed out, “the party’s desire to retain power shapes every aspect of national policy. When it comes to external affairs, it means that Beijing’s ultimate aim is to ‘make the world safe for authoritarianism,’ or at least for continued one-party rule in China.”

The CCP has thus far successfully maintained its monopoly on power and avoided any meaningful political reform. American policy in recent years has conceded this monopoly to the CCP and done little to support Chinese reformers, dissenters, and voices for liberty. There may have been short-term rationales for this, but as a policy it has run its course.

A new strategy that aims for a freer China would, in the span of history, not be so new at all. It has been part of the strategic conception of most U.S. presidents since the Cold War opening to China.

U.S. Policy and Democracy in China

Nixon and Kissinger’s justly heralded strategic opening to Beijing in 1972 realigned mainland China from a Communist revolutionary adversary to a “normal” authoritarian partner in the Cold War. This new relationship rekindled hopes that China might eventually transition from autocratic to democratic. A series of developments in the 1970s and 1980s—including Mao Zedong’s death, the opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, the 1978-79 Democracy Wall movement, Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, and the collapse of Soviet communism at the end of the Cold War—provided some episodic momentum to these hopes. Many wondered if perhaps the words “Chinese democracy” might eventually become a reality and not just a Guns N’ Roses album.

Accordingly, every American administration since 1989 has premised its China policy on a strategic bet: that as China becomes more prosperous, it will also become freer and a more responsible member of the international system. From George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, each administration built its China policy on this assumption that economic reform would lead inevitably to political reform. This was a reasonable premise. Many of Washington’s authoritarian friends in Asia had successfully embraced democracy, including South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. As other Asian societies made this transition, it made sense to assume that China would follow the same path.

While encouraging closer economic ties between the United States and China, these presidents also attempted to engage China through outreach and dialogue. Treating China like an adversary would cause it to act like an adversary, the assumption went, whereas engaging with China would lead it to be more like us: peaceful, stable, and free.

This strategic bet has failed. China has become much richer, but it has not become freer. A few years ago James Mann perceptively called these dashed hopes that an engaged and prosperous China would become a peaceful and free China “the China fantasy.” If anything, its increased wealth has equipped the Chinese Communist party to devote even more resources to maintaining its authoritarian rule and monopoly on power. It turned out that one critical difference between China and America’s allies and partners in the region was that the United States had little leverage over Beijing. Its allies were dependent on Washington and more susceptible to inducements and punishments on the path to democracy.

Just as it has failed to encourage political reform, the current U.S. strategy of engagement has also not enticed China to become a more responsible member of the international system. Evidence otherwise abounds, including China’s destabilizing aggression in the Asian littoral, its free-riding on America’s preservation of the Indo-Pacific’s open maritime order, its shielding of oppressive dictatorships in Syria, Sudan, and North Korea from human rights scrutiny, and its thuggish blockage of meaningful human rights and carbon emissions limitation initiatives in multilateral fora. Xi Jinping’s repeated invocations of “Asia for Asians” provide one of the most explicit statements yet of what has become readily apparent to close observers of Beijing’s strategy and intentions: It wants to push the United States out of the western Pacific and be the sole regional hegemon. No wonder virtually all of its neighbors—with the exception of North Korea—have distanced themselves from China and sought closer ties with the United States.

As far back as the Clinton administration, the United States began quietly contemplating the possibility that China’s rise might not always be peaceful. This led to the development of a second prong to the U.S. strategy of engagement: hedging. As Washington deepened its relationship with China, it also began upgrading its security alliances in the region and modestly increasing its defense capabilities as a hedge against potential Chinese bellicosity. The Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia (once hyped and now largely forgotten) was, in fact, just a continuation of this two-part strategy of engagement and hedging as already pursued by Clinton and Bush.

Yet after almost three decades of U.S. engagement and two decades of hedging, China is more threatening externally and no freer internally. If anything, the CCP’s hold on power under Xi Jinping is stronger than ever, even as China’s erstwhile “peaceful rise” has turned into something more ominous.

The Answer: The Freedom Prong

If this two-pronged strategy has not succeeded, should it be jettisoned? No. The U.S.-China economic relationship remains too important to our nation, to Chinese reformers, and to the global economy for engagement to be abandoned. In addition, China’s military capabilities and intentions remain too threatening for the American defense hedge to be abandoned. Rather, the American strategy should be expanded: It needs a freedom prong.

A growing threat to liberty deserves a symmetrical response—a sophisticated defense of freedom. Just as the United States should protect its security and economic interests in Asia, the grand aim of U.S. strategy should be the measured yet persistent push for a free and democratic China. The freedom prong should be evolutionary, not revolutionary, especially given the abundant recent examples of the chaos that can emerge when dictatorships fall suddenly. But a gradual and prudent policy of supporting liberty is the most responsible course for China’s longer-term future.

A free and democratic China would not only tame the increasingly dangerous strategic rivalry but also change the world: The Chinese people are enterprising and resilient, and more freedom in China would unleash their potential for innovation, commerce, and creativity. With a freer China there is a real possibility for Sino-American comity, especially in light of history. The United States long tried to side with China, from the Stimson Doctrine calling for Chinese territorial integrity to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s support for China against Japan’s aggression and his strategic concept that China would act as one of the four “policemen” that would help govern the post-World War II global order. This history of American support for China has been obscured by the CCP’s hostility.

Unfortunately, Washington has previously squandered some of its best chances to press for Chinese democracy. President George H.W. Bush and his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, decided to reinforce ties with Deng Xiaoping after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Before and immediately after the brutality, the CCP was split and weak. China was more dependent on the United States than it is today. Support for party leaders such as Zhao Ziyang could have prodded the Deng government toward compromise with China’s student-led democracy activists. Skilled diplomacy could have quietly asked Deng to remove the hardliners and make room for Zhao’s reformist faction. That would have followed Reagan’s approach in the Philippines in removing Ferdinand Marcos, a longtime ally. Instead, Bush and Scowcroft chose the short-term security of dictatorial stability over the long-term promise of Chinese freedom.

President Clinton spoke forthrightly about his hope for “peaceful evolution” in China. His secretary of state, Warren Christopher, told Congress that the Clinton policy would be to encourage a “broad peaceful evolution in China from communism to democracy.” But zeal for this push soon began to fade as Beijing and entrenched interests in Washington wore him down. Clinton’s eventual support for China’s membership in the World Trade Organization combined with the free-market instincts of Chinese premier Zhu Rongji allowed for greater economic openness in China, and the hope was that a real private sector would emerge and demand political liberty. Indeed, Chinese entrepreneurs then and now have struggled for liberty where they could, but it was a mistake to think that the procession toward political liberty was inevitable.

President George W. Bush complemented his focus on the commercial and security dimensions of the relationship with a genuine concern for human rights and religious liberty. Bush pressed harder than any other president for religious and political freedom. He supported political and religious activists in China, even holding high-profile meetings with Chinese house church leaders and lawyers and speaking out against Beijing’s repression. This was all done in the hope that President Hu Jintao was a real partner under whose leadership China could become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. The personal diplomacy did not produce long-term change, as Hu lacked either the desire or the ability to reform his government. Almost a decade later, China’s international irresponsibility has increased, and there is little talk anymore in Washington or Beijing of responsible stake holding.

Even if a democratic China did not materialize, at least Clinton and Bush based their policies on the goal of greater freedom in China, leading in turn to a better relationship between Washington and Beijing. President Obama has not made a freer China part of his agenda. Since he implicitly acknowledges that a clash of values—in the administration’s parlance, “China’s disrespect for international norms”—is an impediment to better relations, his theory of how the United States and China can build an enduring friendship is a mystery. There is today no meaningful U.S. policy to support economic or political liberty in China. The Obama administration’s answer to China’s authoritarian rise is rhetorical devotion to the policy of pivoting or “rebalancing.” The strategic conception is that since America’s economic and political future is in Asia, the region is too important to be dominated by China. In order to position itself for an “Asia-Pacific” century, the United States should largely divest itself of commitments in the Middle East and Europe.

The declared goals were worthwhile, ambitious, indeed aspirational. But in practice the policy has failed. Obama’s first-term foreign policy team embraced Asia with verve. The Pentagon is doing its best to reposition a shrinking asset base into Asia, and the Obama administration is at last making a push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There has been hardly any other notable implementation. It is the very definition of strategic insolvency to increase commitments while decreasing resources.

The failure is not only in implementation. The strategic conception itself is flawed. The United States cannot abandon a century of successful grand strategy—a preponderance of power in and around the strategic centers of Europe, the Persian Gulf, and Asia. It cannot pivot away from any of these regions. They are profoundly interlinked by trade, energy relations, and security, not to mention America’s alliance commitments across each region. The rhetoric of the “pivot” notwithstanding, it is impossible to seal off one region of the world from others.

The key problem with the pivot, however, is that it disregards the main competitive advantage of America: its historic support for liberty. Any great power can become the predominant security and economic power in Asia. Imperial China and Imperial Japan each filled that role at different times. Only the United States can lead by affirming the principles upon which the nation is based—principles that speak to the personal aspirations of many Asians.

Democracy’s history in Asia offers both insight and hope. While U.S. power and influence certainly helped, the remarkable transitions to freedom by Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia were the product of the desire of Asians themselves for individual human dignity after a legacy of colonialism and conflict. It is easy to forget how unthinkable democracy in Asia seemed to be just a generation ago. Asians were considered politically backward, dependent, and culturally hostile. With American support, Asians in several countries defied this crude cultural determinism.

Now China is in the awkward position of being surrounded by not only suspicious powers but democratic powers. Chinese entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and diplomats work in and engage with India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and much of Southeast Asia. They wonder why democracy is good enough for these smaller powers, but not good enough for them. China is becoming the outlier, as in the arc from India to Indonesia to Japan most Asians live in democracies.

The Building Blocks of a New Strategy

China’s isolation on the issue of political liberty is an opening for a return to a strategy of peaceful evolution. Consider economic liberty: The Chinese private sector that was allowed to sprout in the 1990s desperately wants to be part of an Asian system of free markets and political liberty. A cornerstone of a new China strategy should be to build free institutions like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and informal “freedom” groupings that China can join if it meets the criteria. There are good reasons to believe that, if given the choice, most Chinese citizens would rather be part of an aspirational Asia of free markets and political liberty than stifled amidst China’s corrupt state capitalism.

China’s loneliness in a majority democratic Asia is one basis for the freedom prong of a new U.S. policy. Another is the stunning growth of Christianity—a faith long associated with the West that is being adopted by Chinese believers on Chinese terms. As observers such as David Aikman and Evan Osnos have written, China is now in its fourth decade of a profound church expansion. By numerous estimates, China already has as many as 100 million Christians, one of the largest, most vibrant, and fastest-growing Christian populations in the world.

The growth of Chinese Christianity is a hopeful development for the cause of liberty. The Chinese spiritual awakening bears some resemblance to the religious revivals that occurred in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries and considerably influenced such liberal movements as the American Revolution, abolitionism, and women’s suffrage. Christianity also played a key role in the democratic transitions in Eastern Europe and South Korea.

While in the earlier years of the Chinese church’s growth this development was concentrated in rural areas and was relatively apolitical, more recently many Chinese intellectuals, business leaders, and even Communist party members have embraced the Christian faith. As these Chinese Christians have matured theologically, they have also begun to work out the social and political implications of their faith, and are at the vanguard of movements against maladies such as corruption and forced abortion and for religious freedom, labor rights, free speech, and the rule of law. There are now Christians in every important profession in China, including the “Boss Christians” running Chinese companies, who are equipped to step into political leadership positions. As Osnos argues, the key social dynamic in China today is the conflict between the aspirations of the Chinese people for a more meaningful life and the party’s continued repression.

A third basis for the freedom prong is China’s burgeoning class of entrepreneurs and lawyers. After a hopeful period of dismantling statism that lasted from Deng through Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji, the state has reasserted itself in squeezing the private sector. Many Chinese private business leaders are quietly fighting back within the system. They are rich, powerful, and networked and have contacts and partners within the CCP establishment.

While China is not a rule of law state, it has many Western-educated lawyers skilled and experienced in complex commercial transactions. This cadre conducts much of its work within democratic legal systems and knows well the economic benefits of such rule of law fundamentals as an independent judiciary and depoliticized legal system. Chinese criminal and constitutional lawyers are now consistently taking on more controversial cases that challenge governmental authority—defending such imprisoned figures as Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiabo and Uighur economist Ilham Thohti. They are using the rights guarantees already present in the Chinese constitution in arguing their cases, as well as appealing to international legal and human rights standards. A number of these legal activists form the influentialweiquan movement of human rights lawyers, many of whom are also Christians.

In short, China is filled with latent democrats whom the United States and other freedom-minded allies can and should support. A first step for American policy-makers is to expand the concept of engagement beyond just government-to-government contact and engage broadly with China’s most courageous and dynamic citizens: its dissidents, reformers, and freedom activists. Right now the CCP tries to dictate the engagement agenda to the United States—whom U.S. officials may meet, what topics may be discussed, and so on. By one count the U.S. government maintains over 90 annual “dialogues” with the Chinese government, across a staggering array of departments, agencies, bureaus, offices, and commissions.

Over 90 dialogues a year—not including the countless informal bilateral meetings constantly taking place between American and Chinese officials—provides a lot of business for luxury hotels in Beijing and Washington. But do these encounters do enough for the U.S.-China relationship? Ironically, these dialogues are at once too many and too few. It is far too many in that Beijing has become adept at managing and manipulating American expectations while diverting pressure from more substantive policy changes. Yet it is far too few in that the vast majority of these dialogues are only with Chinese government officials. Largely missing from these forums are the Chinese citizens who provide much of their nation’s dynamism and productivity today and who will do much to shape its future. These are the entrepreneurs, intellectuals, house-church pastors, artists, and other reform-minded Chinese who love their country but loathe their government. They are America’s natural allies.

The fourth building block is China’s own century-long internal discussion of and attempts at democratic reform. The United States would be joining, not starting, a Chinese conversation about Chinese liberty. At first glance this might not seem apparent. Beijing tries to persuade its own people and the West that democracy is a foreign antibody in China. However, as Columbia Sinologist Andrew Nathan has written in his definitive book on Chinese democracy, as the Qing dynasty fell and the Chinese republic was formed in 1912, “all politically aware Chinese agreed that China must be in some sense democratic.” Every Chinese constitution after the imperial fall recognized that the people must be sovereign. The ideological fight in China became a fight over two Western ideologies adapted to Chinese conditions: Marxist Leninism and democracy. While the former won out, the debate continues.

The greatest exemplar of Chinese democracy is the former president of Taiwan, Chiang Ching-Kuo, and his deputy and successor, Lee Teng-hui, who together led one of the most orderly and successful democratic transitions in history. Mainland Chinese are riveted by democratic Taiwan. Mainland Chinese leaders including Sun Yat-sen, Wei Jingsheng, Wu’er Kaixi, Fang Lizhi, Zhao Ziyang, Bao Tong, Ai Weiwei, and Liu Xiaobo have kept the fight alive. Under Deng Xiaoping the PRC promulgated a new constitution in 1982 expanding the rights and duties of the Chinese people. High-level study groups—often the drivers of Chinese reform—made up of officials and scholars have been allowed to discuss the role of an independent judiciary and an independent legislative branch and elections. In short, a strategy of encouraging peaceful evolution would work alongside China’s own efforts at political reform.

Implementing a New U.S.-China Strategy

Building upon the existing democratic elements in China, a new China policy should have three main parts. First, as multiple astute observers have pointed out, getting our China policy right means first getting our Asia policy right. That starts with our regional alliances. The continued primacy of the United States through its alliance system provides the greatest means to deepen the development of an Asian liberal order. Asians simply cannot consolidate their democracies and grow economically if they face growing Chinese political or military pressure. The strengthening of an Asian democratic order could have the most consequential impact on China’s political future, particularly if there is a way into such a system for a liberalizing China.

Second, U.S. policy should focus on enabling Chinese people to communicate with one another, debate their history, practice their faiths, and expand their constitutional and legal reform efforts. What is needed is a policy of meeting lies with truth. This will require counterpropaganda and informational resources including a reformed and expanded broadcasting and communications effort such as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, efforts to circumvent the Great Firewall, and, perhaps through a new United States Information Agency, a mobilization against the propagation of illiberalism. We face a new battle of ideas in the 21st century on two fronts: the well-known ideological foe of militant Islamism and the less-appreciated challenge of state authoritarianism led by China and Russia. We need to reorganize our government to engage in this battle.

Third, senior-level engagement should be restructured. Washington should continue to engage the Chinese government diplomatically on economic, security, and diplomatic issues of common concern. But just as Chinese leaders can meet with whomever they want in the United States, senior U.S. officials (including the president and the secretary of state) should engage all of China, including reformers in the realms of the economy, religion, the environment, and law.

Specifically, senior American officials should hold regular meetings with Chinese reformers and dissidents, integrate human rights as a top-line priority in the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and increase funding for Human Rights and Democracy Fund programs in China. They should devote more rhetorical attention to PRC oppression and freedom activists in China. The United States should lead this effort, but not do it alone. Against Beijing’s “divide and conquer” tactics of splitting the U.S. and EU countries into multiple low-level human rights dialogues, America and like-minded allies such as Australia, Japan, and the EU countries should present a multilateral united front to China on human rights.

Resistance to Something New

The CCP would obviously continue to fight any attempts to support Chinese reformers. Its propaganda machine works overtime to try to convince Chinese people and Western elites that: “the West pushes democracy to keep China down,” “democracy is not for Chinese people, who need order,” “democracy is a form of Western imperial spiritual pollution,” and “a democratic China will be more hostile and dangerous than an autocratic one.” If some of these messages sound familiar to American ears, it is because the CCP has aimed them at American audiences. As a result, some prominent Americans repeat these tropes back home, which can cut off debate about democracy in China. The United States needs to help Chinese democrats expose these lies within China and educate Western elites about the ways the Chinese themselves have been grappling with their democratic future.

In the past the U.S. business community greeted attempts at peaceful evolution with wariness. But today there might be more support from business leaders for adding a freedom prong to our China strategy than is commonly appreciated. After years of losing billions of dollars worth of intellectual property to China’s state-sponsored cyber-theft and piracy, many in the business community have come to see that China’s predatory state poses a threat not only to its own citizens but also to American corporate balance sheets. American businesses are victims of China’s endemic lack of rule of law, transparency, and accountability: All these hurt the commercial environment as much as they prevent political freedom. In short, the CCP’s pathologies are a bundled commodity. A stable business climate in China requires rule of law and transparent regulation and government. And then there is the question of where the next cycles of Chinese growth will come from. The great hope for a massive consumer class in China rests on economic liberalism: the freedom of ordinary Chinese to invest where they want, take their money in and out of the country freely, and compete, through their small businesses, with the Chinese state colossus of crony capitalism.

The main purpose of a new U.S. strategy is to create the conditions for more liberty in Asia and better relations with China as part of an aspirational vision for Asia. But the other reason to support democracy in China is to hedge against the possibility that the Communist party will fail.

Both tracks of the American dual-strategy of engagement and hedging rest on the assumption of internal stability and enduring CCP control in China. Engagement depends on this because it is predicated on working with the CCP as the sole authority in China. Paradoxically, hedging also depends on stable party rule because it is predicated on China’s continuing on its current trajectory as a strong rising power. But what if these assumptions are both flawed? What if China internally is not stable but fragile, not strong but weak?

China is more brittle than many imagine. First, its slowing economic growth is not just a typical cycle but reflects some of the fundamental limitations of China’s state-owned enterprises and low-cost export economic model and the challenges of shifting to a more decentralized domestic-consumption model. Second, China’s massive environmental problems, long painfully evident to visitors to its major cities, are becoming ever more acute and engendering widespread frustrations.

Third, the endemic corruption that pervades Chinese society also undermines confidence in the government and inspires deep resentments among the populace. Xi Jinping’s highly visible anticorruption campaign may seek in part to address these resentments, but it is primarily intended to purge Xi’s rivals and cement his hold on power. Think of Putin’s vendetta against many Russian oligarchs in the early part of his presidency: What may have appeared at the time to be a high-minded effort to suppress corruption turned out in hindsight to have been a craven, cynical, yet effective bid to consolidate his power. But if Xi’s campaign continues, it could also create a political backlash and split the CCP as never before. A party split on top of an existing party crisis of legitimacy portends real trouble for one-party rule.

In short, China’s ruling structures are brittle, costly, and strained by the corrosive effects of corruption, environmental calamities, and lack of popular consent. The fact that China spends more on internal surveillance and policing than on its military only confirms that the CCP’s greatest fear is of its own citizens, not an external rival like the United States. The real threat to Chinese stability comes from possible state collapse or revolution, without a peaceful civil society to step in and help manage the subsequent vacuum.

Adding a freedom prong to the engage and hedge strategy is the most prudent course for dealing with this possibility. It helps answer the question “Then what?” If, through whatever course of events, the CCP were to lose its monopoly on power, what political authorities would emerge to take its place? Right now the CCP is successfully repressing all vestiges of civil society; Burke’s “little platoons” of civic organizations and religious groups that mediate between the individual and the state are nowhere to be found. This does not mean that China’s collapse is imminent. The CCP is resilient and acutely aware of the demise of past authoritarian regimes such as the Soviet Union. That said, when have we ever correctly predicted a massive political change in a major country?

Those who fear change in China fear—with justification—an Arab Spring scenario from which something much worse than the current leadership would emerge. But American policy does little to mitigate this scenario. A freedom prong would cultivate and support alternatives in anticipation of the day when the CCP as currently constituted might no longer be in control.

How might a greater American effort to support freedom in China affect the overall U.S.-China relationship? Probably less than one might think in the short term, and certainly less than the profound disruption some China experts fear. Beijing can always be counted on to act in its own perceived interest, and the CCP still prioritizes a stable bilateral relationship with the United States. Increased U.S. support for human rights and rule of law programs, and more meetings with dissidents, would doubtless provoke some annoyed démarches from Beijing and the usual grumblings about “meddling in China’s internal affairs,” but little more. The CCP is nothing if not ruthlessly pragmatic. It might note the continued existence of the KMT in Taiwanese politics and prepare itself to compete in real elections.

A new China strategy with a freedom prong is a high-risk and high-reward proposition. Before President Obama, all post-Cold War U.S. presidents favored encouraging China’s peaceful evolution. Their mistake was a misreading of past Asian transitions to democracy, which they believed were inevitable. They were not. Instead, American presidents mixed sound political judgment with carrot and stick policies that sometimes risked far worse outcomes. But the reward for their successes is self-evident in our vibrant alliances today with Asian democracies. With China, the United States may be reaching an inflection point. Our present path is likely to lead to a high-risk, volatile rivalry with an increasingly unstable regime. The alternative path holds out the hope of leading gradually to Sino-American comity and an enduring peace. It begins with supporting those Chinese people who seek more freedom and a better future for their country.

Dan Blumenthal is the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. William Inboden is executive director of the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft and associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin.

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