‘End of an Era’ Review: China’s Own Worst Enemy

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Carl Minzner’s book End of an Era was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Minzner’s central theme is that the current regime is its own worst enemy. Under Mr. Xi’s increasingly autocratic rule, Mr. Minzner argues, top-down control has undermined the development of society at every turn.

 

The author, a professor at Fordham Law School, provides no shortage of examples to make his case. Mr. Xi’s campaign against graft, for instance—or, at least, the graft of his political rivals—has led to mass capital flight and to paralysis among bureaucrats who fear a wrong move will terminate their careers. For most Chinese, the “Chinese Dream” is not to enjoy the modest domestic prosperity Mr. Xi suggests, but to send their children overseas for study and a better life. Incentives to meet targets for economic growth and social stability have resulted in data falsification at every level of government. China’s rulers risk losing touch with the country’s social and economic challenges as they are fed only positive, bonus-earning information.

…Mr. Minzner’s arguments are lucid, readable and well-sourced, making this compact volume compulsory reading for those who continue to insist that China’s authoritarian governance might be an improvement on democracy. For all the Communist Party’s persistence in identifying its own well-being with that of the Chinese people, it is the people who are in peril, not the Party. Mr. Minzner sees no possible outcome in which the Party is dislodged from power. For China’s communist leaders, that is the best of all possible worlds.

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