Yi Fuxian in Project Syndicate:
When Western leaders welcomed China into the World Trade Organization in 2001, most assumed that they were creating the conditions for eventual democratization. A growing Chinese middle class, they assumed, would demand greater accountability from the government, ultimately creating so much pressure that the autocrats would step aside and allow for a democratic transition. This political fantasy underpinned the Sino-American relationship for decades.
But it wasn’t to be. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has been regressing on all fronts, reasserting more top-down control over the economy and tightening censorship and other forms of social and political control. It has been led down this path by the legacy of the one-child policy, which fundamentally reshaped the country’s demographics and economy.