Is it a stronger centralized government that China needs?
China’s peculiar road toward modernization after 1978 was powered by “township and village enterprises” — local government bodies given the freedom to establish businesses and enter into the emerging market economy.
Now that the local and village enterprises are much stronger, they will need the central government to counter local abuses of power within a federal structure.
But it (freedom) will come about only when popular demand for some form of downward accountability on the part of local governments and businesses is supported by a central government strong enough to force local elites to obey the country’s rules”
This balance of power can create a more stable China…and a China more dedicated to protecting freedom and individual rights. As usual, Fukuyama is keenly pragmatic and profound.
As a small aside, Fukuyama did support the Iraq military invasion, perhaps in part because of similar thinking he’s applying to China now (freedom through western democratic statecraft and balance of powers).
Iraq was bungled by this administration, but also, perhaps we were a little idealistic about how well our concept of freedom (Western, post-enlightenment, deeply individualistic) would travel.
China’s a different story, obviously, than Iraq, but does the model need tweaking a little?
Is the use of military force to apply such thinking ever justified?
Addition: The PEN American Center has awarded Yang Tongyan a Freedom To Write Medal (which he’s apparently not so free to do). Tongyan is in prison for challenging the very structures discussed above. The good that PEN can do comes with its own idealism and limitations, I imagine, but is a good way to show the range of American influence on China…