From the appalling crackdown on the visionary expectation of the ardent student protesters some16 years ago to the subsequent repression of all political dissidence, Communist leaders have time and again tended to reassert a blind obeisance to a dogged system of harsh and mechanical one-party rule. Equally alarming is the ostentatious display of military power in response to Taiwanese aspirations for independence over the last two decades, along with the troubling detection of furtive deliveries of military know-how to unstable areas in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. These measures scarcely serve to improve international confidence in the Chinese bid for a responsible position on the world stage of the new century.
Admittedly China has recently begun to evince a new, less menacing and forward-looking stance toward proving itself as a responsible collaborator in global interaction as the nation begins to assume a substantial position in the world economy. By assisting in negotiations on the Korean Peninsula, China, in effect, was able to take advantage of her influence in the region in the service of broader international concerns. Domestically, the People's Republic of China has taken steps to free a token number of leading political dissidents in response to Western appeals, and, in diverse rural villages, elections for local leaders have been authorized. Chinese rulers also seem to be dealing moderately with the lately re-annexed regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and so far seem to be restricting intimidation tactics to verbal posturing and a display of military muscle in response to Taiwanese desires for independence.1
It is possible that the menace that some perceive in China as an up-and-coming superpower with overall goals that threaten American wellbeing and commerce, might, in truth, be an emerging new Chinese generation: a forthright forward-looking dynamic keenly aware that the future depends on a critical modification of policies from the worn-out revolutionary era in the interest of asserting China's rightful place in the broader scheme of a world growing ever more and more interdependent. At least one Chinese insider seems to believe so.
From his years spent in the People's Republic as a Red Guard during the infamous Cultural Revolution, Professor Chen Jian brings a quite singular experience and personal familiarity to his study. He is able to appraise the foreign-policy proclivities of the People's Republic from the perspective of an insider seeped in Chinese history. Jian's assessment reflects on much more constrained Chinese objectives than those that bother many outside critics. As a country bent in earnest on certifying for itself a leading role in the global community, Chinese decision makers are certainly cognizant of the imperative to appreciably accommodate current national policies in apparent deference to international standards.2
According to Professor Jian, even though China may boast currently of a ten percent annual economic growth, widespread poverty still haunts its rural interior. The regime can employ its extensive masses in the service of its growing