In his review of my book China Tomorrow: Democracy or Dictatorship?, Francis Sempa took issue with the point I made that China’s willingness to become a “respected great power and full member of the international community” may convince her elites in the future to democratize her political system, in arguing that this country has already acquired this status. My view is that of course China is already a great power but she is very much aware of the fact that the West, and particularly the US and the European Union, as well as Japan and India, in other words the countries that matters most for her, will not fully respect her and consider her as an integrated member of the international community as long as she remains authoritarian. For China, both its government and its society, other countries, as Russia, and the Global South, matter, but not as much as the first group of nations, which continues to define most of the international norms and rules of the game.
Sempa did not fully convey my point on Fukuyama either. As everyone, I think that Fukuyama was wrong when in 1989 he predicted the “end of history”. But I have been struck by the violence of Fukuyama’s criticism in China, as if many Chinese officials or pro-governmental elites feared that his view would eventually influence their country and as a result he would see his prediction fulfilled. And what I argue in my conclusion is that Fukuyama may eventually prove right if and when China democratizes, an ironic fate for a country that has so strongly vilified him.