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HKS Authors

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Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus


Kurt Campbell and Ely Ratner are right to raise questions about the assumptions that have guided U.S. China policy. Twenty-five years ago, the West bet that China would head toward democracy and a market economy. Such a bet was not simply the product of post-Cold War illusions. Social science theories of modernization suggested that as an economy approached the threshold of an annual income of $10,000 per capita, an expanding middle class would demand more liberties. This expectation was based not only on Western history but also on the recent experiences of Asian countries such as South Korea. Moreover, the development of the Internet meant that societies had access to vastly more information than ever before. U.S. President Bill Clinton said that trying to control the Internet would be like trying to "nail Jell-O to the wall." As it turned out, the Chinese Communist Party proved quite adept at that seemingly impossible task.


Nye, Jr., Joseph S. "Time Will Tell." Foreign Affairs, 77.4, August 2018, 190-192.