In the pages of the current Business Week, to my surprise, a credible write-up on how the people of China might get out from under their government’s thumb. It takes a bit of a long view, which is appropriate when addressing a big problem.
The article, entitled Hu Jintao: China’s Gorbachev?, is mostly about some modest reforms (property rights, etc.) that Hu may be trying to push through. But then it closes with a fantasy scenario where massive pro-democracy agitation, like Tienanmin, erupts in 2007 or so, and the Chinese government knows that if they pull another Tienanmin it’ll probably cost them the 2008 Olympics. So they have to work out a compromise, but once that steely grip starts to slip they can’t get it back, and China’s on the road to joining the civilized world.
It might well work. If I were in the Chinese dissident community, I’d start planning now, make sure everyone knows that 2007 is the year, but withhold the precise timing to avoid making too easy for the other side. In three and a half years you could build up some ferocious underground momentum.