Since the beginning of 1997, Beijing and the man it appointed to be Hong Kong's chief executive, C. H. Tung, have been rewriting Hong Kong's laws to put new restrictions on political activity and free speech. The Hong Kong canary is already short of breath as the PRC coal mine closes in around it. By the time we wake up to find that political liberties have been extinguished, it will be too late.
These days there are no more double standards about dictatorships. If they're "emerging markets" for U.S. exports, we love them all. In this era, foreign policy is made by the Commerce Department and the U.S. trade representative - their job is to pry open markets, not societies. In places like Indonesia, you can't do both. President Suharto is the Indonesian market.
No leader of either party has had the courage to tell the American people that preserving the current benevolent international environment may be less expensive than fighting the Cold War, but not that much less. We keep cashing in the same "peace dividend" over and over.
China's success in shaping American foreign policy through the American business community has been extraordinary. If the wealth created in the Chinese economic miracle sows seeds of future political pressures from a new entrepreneurial class, that same wealth also provides the Beijing government and its army with the muscle to rebuff internal and external pressures for political reform.
The most likely setting for the world's first nuclear war, observers generally agree, is South Asia.
The end of the Cold War has brought no mere adjustment among states but a novel redistribution of power among states, markets, and civil society. National governments are not simply losing autonomy in a globalizing economy. They are sharing powers with businesses, with international organizations, and with a multitude of citizens groups, known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
The Chinese leadership views the world today in much the same way Kaiser Wilhelm II did a century ago: The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. And it is poorly suited to the needs of a Chinese dictatorship trying to maintain power at home and increase its clout abroad.