“… The China Fantasy raises an awkward and important question: What if there is a third alternative between the rise of democracy and the collapse of China’s political order? What if that alternative is the survival of the one-party state, with all its apparatus of control and repression? In an era when capitalists can join the party built by Mao, the Chinese communists have already shown how adept they are at changing their spots. What would it mean for the United States — and, indeed, the world — if 20 or 30 years from now a much richer and more powerful China proved to be every bit as authoritarian a state as it is today? What if that China were one in which the middle classes decided, much as they did in Hitler’s Germany, to opt for stability and prosperity over democracy?
Mann thinks that scenario highly likely, even if he does not share the alarmist view now taking root in some Washington circles that China is going to challenge the United States militarily. His concern is both that an undemocratic China is bad for the Chinese themselves and that it will be bad for the world, giving comfort and even support to other unsavory regimes as it already does to that of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. …”