Why China won’t democratize anytime soon


China has not democratized yet, nor will it anytime soon, because communism’s institutional setup does not allow for successful democratization, argues Stephen Kotkin, Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University:

But authoritarianism has not meant stagnation, because Chinese institutions have managed to mix meritocracy and corruption, competence and incompetence, and they have somehow kept the country moving onward and upward. It might slow down soon, and even implode from its myriad contradictions. But analysts have been predicting exactly that for decades, and they’ve been consistently wrong so far.

Beijing has developed “an increasingly impressive soft-power portfolio along with the hard-power one, enabling China to make inroads into its opponent’s turf,” Kotkin, a Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, writes for Foreign Affairs:

Australia, for example, is a rich and robust liberal democracy with a high degree of social solidarity and a crucial pillar of the American order—and it happens to be smack in the path of China’s expansion. Beijing’s influence and interference there have been growing steadily over the last generation, both as a natural consequence of economic interdependence and thanks to a deliberate long-term campaign on the part of China to lure Australia into a twenty-first-century version of Finlandization. Similar processes are playing out across Asia and Europe, as China embarks on building a Grand Eurasia* centered on Beijing, perhaps even turning Europe away from the Atlantic.

Authoritarianism is all-powerful yet brittle, while democracy is pathetic but resilient. China is coming off a long run of stable success, but things could change quickly,” Kotkin adds. RTWT

*In 2013, the Chinese government unveiled its One Belt One Road initiative (BRI), notes the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Covering an expanse of 68 countries and 65% of the global population, the Chinese government is looking to invest up to $900 billion USD of infrastructure investments over the next decade, broadening China’s already pervasive economic influence.

This panel discussion, Belt and Road Initiative: How to Mitigate Governance Impacts, will examine the impact of BRI and increased capital inflow on public governance and democratic institutions in recipient countries. David Dollar, a Senior Fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, will be joined by Jonathan E. Hillman, a fellow with the CSIS Simon Chair in Political Economy and Director of the Reconnecting Asia Project, and Professor Richard Javad Heydarian, author of Asia’s New Battlefield: US, China & the Struggle for Western Pacific.

Welcoming Remarks: 

Andrew Wilson, Executive Director, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)


David Dollar, Senior Fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution

Richard Javad Heydarian, ADR-Stratbase Institute Fellow and Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist

Abdulwahab Alkebsi, Managing Director, Programs, CIPE (discussion moderator)

Friday, June 29, 2018
12:30 – 2:00pm
Center for International Private Enterprise
1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite #700
Washington DC, 20036

Lunch will be provided


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