Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Ian Johnson, explored the evolution of China's nascent civil society with a medium-sized audience at Carnegie.
The political progress in Taiwan and Hong Kong is good news. Ever since Taiwan began its transition to democracy in the late 1980s, optimists have hoped that its opening would serve as a shining beacon for the mainland. But only democratization within China can transform the country.
Beijing would ultimately rather confront the United States rather than permit Taiwanese independence; an expression of democratic self-determination is insufficient to establish territorial sovereignty; and it is not necessarily immoral, or fundamentally contrary to U.S. interests, to oppose any manifestation of democracy in Taiwan. Accordingly, it is prudent to maintain the status quo.
Discussants analyze the current trends and forces that have been driving--and blocking--political opening in China in the reform era. Four panels were convened: (1) China's Political Development since 1979, (2) The Changing Communist Party, (3) Emerging Pluralism in China, and (4) China's Legal Reform.
The rise of the middle class in China has heightened the demand for public participation in the Chinese government’s decision-making processes. Discussants examine public participation in China's policy-making process.
It is unlikely that the meeting between Wen Jiabao and George Bush will result in any drastic changes in either country's policies. Nonetheless, it will provide a valuable opportunity for the two leaders to clarify their respective positions and hopefully bridge some of the differences that exist on key issues between China and the United States.
Given the centrality of the Taiwan issue in U.S.-China relations, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have supported democracy and freedom for Taiwan while maintaining a stable and cooperative relationship with China. When American policy loses its balance, the Washington-Beijing-Taipei triangular relationship begins to come apart, to the detriment of all.