Foreign and Defense Policy

China’s Future?

The WSJ reports:

Chinese authorities have blocked the word “Egypt” from searches on Twitter-like microblogging sites in an indication of concern among Communist Party leaders that the unrest there could encourage similar calls for political reform in China.

Internet censors also appeared Sunday to have deleted almost all of the comments posted beneath the few limited reports on the unrest—mostly from the state-run Xinhua news agency—that have been published on Chinese news sites in the past few days.

The strict online controls illustrate the party’s concern that the Internet is providing China’s citizens with a new means of information and organization that could challenge its monopoly on power, as has happened with other authoritarian governments in recent years.

Any predictions about the future of China need to take account of the fact that the regime in Beijing is still very afraid of its own people. There has been a great expansion of personal freedom in China over the last 30 years, but very little increase in political openness. The country could benefit from a gradual liberalization—just as Egypt could have—but the leadership finds it very difficult to do.

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