Monday, October 13, 2008

Freedom in China

I posted earlier today a little bit about Cuba and the counterproductive nature of the sanctions that have been imposed on the country. An interesting contrast to Cuba is China. With regard to this increasingly nominal communist country we have pursued a policy of trade and engagement, even in the face of human rights horrors such as Tienanmen Square. The logic behind this approach is that expanding prosperity will eventually lead to expanded civil liberties and, inshallah, eventually democracy.

Indeed, it can be convincingly argued that prosperity and freedom are intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Particularly in the modern information age a dynamic economy is incompatible with restrictions on liberty that squelch the very creative energies that underpin economic progress.

In any case, the theory about the linkage between economic progress and expanded freedom would appear to be bolstered by this New York Times report that suggests China is on the verge of allowing peasants to buy and sell land-use rights. Respect for land and property rights is widely considered to be a key element in successful democratic systems.

As Confucius said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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