dijous, 12 de novembre de 2009

When Obama came to China

"After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and its allies expected successive waves of democratization to extend democratic capitalism to the farthest reaches of the globe. Instead, China's model of state capitalism appears to have weathered a series of financial storms better than democratic capitalism, and the United States now struggles with the question of how to engage this hybrid authoritarian-capitalist state in the post-Cold War world.
The good news is that Chinese society is gradually becoming more pluralistic, and its leadership more open-minded, on the once-intractable issues of democracy, human rights, and even religious freedom. The country's top two leaders, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have voiced strong support for the incremental implementation of democratic reforms, conceiving of democracy in roughly the same way that the West does."

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The existence of these new currents in Chinese society provide an opening for Obama to engage Beijing on political issues in a way that can be at once consistent with American values and respectful of China's enduring cultural identity and ongoing efforts at reform. Instead of allowing "democracy" to be the elephant in the room, he should take a page from his speech at Cairo University this summer and broach the subject with respect for China's recent achievements, a dose of humility concerning the democratic project generally, and a sophisticated and sympathetic understanding of China's turbulent 20th-century political history.

Cheng Li, The Brookings Institution. Can President Obama pull a Cairo-Speech Moment in China?

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