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Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrate against an extradition bill in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands of protesters carry posters and banners through the streets as they demonstrate against an extradition bill, in Hong Kong, June 16, 2019 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

Hong Kong’s Protests Show the Biggest Challenge to China’s Rise Is at Home

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

In the first decades after the commencement of China’s economic reforms and “opening up,” which began at the end of the 1970s, one question loomed in the minds of Western heads of state and many professional China watchers: How long would it take, as capitalist production and consumerism took hold, for Western forms of law and government to follow?

By the time the Soviet Union was dissolved, in 1991, this kind of evolution came to be seen as inevitable, and with the invention and near-universal adoption of the internet, a robust vehicle to help catalyze change in China seemed at hand. For most, the outcome was never in question. It was simply a matter of time. So much so that as President Bill Clinton was helping usher China into the World Trade Organization, which it joined in 2001, he all but gloated about the inevitability of liberalizing change that access to information would bring to Chinese society. Good luck in trying to control the internet, he chuckled. “That’s sort of like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.” ...

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