Conventional wisdom suggests that as China grows richer it will also become more liberal, following essentially the same path of development as today’s advanced democracies. The Internet is supposed to accelerate this process by equipping pro-democracy activists with the tools to find information, inform others and self-organize like never before. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t always stack up.
On the contrary, China’s phenomenal growth has arguably emboldened its communist leaders. Over time they have grown increasingly steadfast in their determination that China will never embrace Western freedoms or its tradition of competitive elections. And while it was once common for foreign leaders to chastise China for its human rights record, such criticisms are barely audible today. High rates of economic growth and rapid integration into the global trading system have effectively pushed issues of democratic governance to the back burner.
Now a new Chatham House report finds that while the Internet is indeed making China more pluralistic, there is no evidence to suggest that the balance of online discussion is concerned with Western-style democratization. . .
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Internet = democracy in China. Not really according to Chatham House