Letters to the editor for the weekly print issue of March 5, 2012: One reader explains why Chinese communism isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Another complains that an op-ed's money-based definition of success unfairly labels teachers as unsuccessful.
The question in the headline of John Hughes's Feb. 6 column, "The great wait of China: How long until freedom?," can be answered in two words: very long.
It is important to remember a fundamental detail about China's experience: The exponential economic growth of the last 40 years – despite a repressive, one-party state – is precisely the reason why the communist apparatus hasn't collapsed, and won't anytime soon.
If we want China to address human rights and political freedom, we must find another way.
First, there is no mass movement in China agitating for change. The burgeoning urban populations Mr. Hughes speaks of are reaping the riches of urbanization and economic development because of state policy, not in spite of it. The human rights discourse therefore has no resonance with the state.
Second, though the system bears "many of the hallmarks of free enterprise," this shouldn't be correlated with democracy. What starker example is there that "good governance" isn't a condition for development? As Hughes notes, efforts to spark a "Jasmine Revolution" in 2011 were swiftly extinguished, and still, China steams ahead.
Third, calls for change in China come from the perspective of Western democracies. China's experience is incomparable. Democratization and appalling human rights records will not resonate in a country that has seen itself flourish in a time when the worst excesses of Western decadence are laid out for all to see. Why would the Chinese want to go the same route as the United States or Europe?