Interview with James Mann on engagement and US-China relations
In 2007 James Mann published The China Fantasy, a short book arguing that Western elites misrepresented the benefits of engagement with China and that prosperity and capitalism might not, as they claimed, eventually bring the PRC closer to the Western liberal order.
Mann lays out three general scenarios for China. In the first, the “soothing scenario”, trade and engagement with China brings capitalism, political liberalization and eventually democracy. In the second, the “upheaval scenario”, China is headed for chaos, disintegration and collapse.
His third scenario was the most prescient:
What if China manages to continue on its current economic path, yet its political system does not change in any fundamental way? What if, twenty-five or thirty years from now, a wealthier, more powerful China continues to be run by a one-party regime that still represses organized political dissent much as it does today, while at the same time China is also open to the outside world and, indeed, is dee…