REFLECTIONS

Posted on May 29, 2011

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CHINA NEAR TIPPING POINT

In his landmark speech this month on Arab discontent, President Barack Obama said authoritarian governments are never truly secure. They may look stable from the outside, but they can never quell the desire off their citizen’s to be free.

The President told us these moving words, “Square by square, town by town, country by country, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights.” And the President has implemented a new approach to foreign policy by supporting citizens in countries where they revolt against dictators.

What happens when the people revolt in China? There is great unrest in that countrry.

Washington, like  other capitals, is unprepared for the failure of Beijing’s regime, which is viewed in many quarters as an “essential” economic partner for peace. Yet today, China is one of the most volatile societies  on earth.

To borrow a phrase the President used this month, the Chinese state is at a “tipping point.” The last thing we should do when China “tips” is try to support the Communist Party in Beijing.

The administration  of George H. W. Bush supported the Communist Party after the horrific Tiananmen massacre in 1989. By doing so, Bush signaled that the international community should help the Communist Party maintain power despite the killing of thousands of Chinese citizens.

Washington’s support for unpopular rulers in the past has created problems. Our backing of the Shah of Iran, for instance, ended up as a disaster: the Iranian revolution of 1979, an event still plaguing the United States and the international community. There are many other awkward situations, such as those resulting from decades of assisting Hosni Mubark in Egypt.

Iran and Egypt are small, China is not.

The consequences of backing the regime against its people in the next Chinese upheaval would be much worse, a mistake of historic proportions.

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