Observing China

George F. Will writes in the Washington Post about whether advocates of engagement with China are overly optimistic in their assessment that economic liberalization and the profusion of choices that comes with a modern service economy will result in political liberalization.

While I disagree with the more rosy assessments of the benefits of engagement — whose “political idealism through economic materialism” seems a bit too far-fetched for my tastes — I also think that China skeptics like Will (and James Mann, whose book he discusses) downplay the likelihood of change in China.

China is changing rapidly, in ways beyond the control of the neo-Mandarins in Beijing. But the mistake is to assume that change will necessarily result in political liberalization.

All of this is a long way of saying that like the rest of political Japan, I am leaving Japan for Golden Week. For the next week I will be visiting — and blogging from — China.

Posting will be lighter than of late, in part because there will be less to write from out of Japan due to the holiday, but I will be recording my observations of China as diligently as possible.

I also want to take this occasion to thank you all for reading, and for your comments.

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