Unless the Chinese Communist party’s general secretary, Xi Jinping, introduces major political reforms, the economy will tank and the party will crumble, David Shambaugh argues in “China’s Future.” The book fleshes out arguments first showcased in “The Coming Chinese Crackup,” a much discussed op-ed published in this newspaper a year ago, Jeffrey Wasserstrom writes for The Wall Street Journal:
The author likens Mr. Xi to a driver approaching a roundabout. Will he continue on the Hard Authoritarian road? Turn off in a Soft Authoritarian direction, loosening controls in the manner of two earlier periods (the 1980s and 1992 to 2007)? Exit along a “Neo-Totalitarian” route that would take China back to where it was when Mao ruled (1949-76)? Or choose a “Semi-Democratic” path, moving China toward becoming a supersize Singapore, with an electoral system but one that favors a single party and a public sphere that is not quite like those found in either fully authoritarian or fully democratic states? Mr. Shambaugh sees little chance of Mr. Xi steering the country toward democracy.