This October will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. This is an anniversary many Western observers doubted the PRC would ever reach — or, at least not in its present form with unchallenged authoritarian one-party rule.

It was the hope of American policymakers that by engaging with China and encouraging it to participate in the international system, the country would not just open up economically but would also liberalize and, eventually, democratize. There was also a belief among some scholars that economic growth and prosperity were not sustainable under China’s current political system and that it would ultimately be forced to change or face collapse.

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