28 March 2004

Buruma's Pessimistic Assessment of China

Traveling in China, one easily picks up the rank smell of political decay. I left Beijing more convinced than ever that Communist Party rule would end, but without any better sense of how this might happen. The peaceful revolutions in Taiwan, South Korea, and Eastern Europe give no firm clues. Circumstances are not the same. I do not share the optimism of those who cling to the hope that the Chinese, in their infinite subtlety, will find a slow, gentle road to the Fifth Modernization [= Democracy], shepherded by the Communist Party. The KMT [Kuomintang = Nationalist Party] did it in Taiwan, but the Chinese Communist Party is not the KMT. Whatever it is that brings this rotting regime to an end, one can only hope it will be peaceful. But hope is not the same as expectation.
SOURCE: Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing, by Ian Buruma (Vintage, 2001), p. 337

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