Monday, October 03, 2005

Neoconservative Approach to China

The latest issue of The Weekly Standard has an article by Max Boot that outlines what America's policy toward China should be. It basically outlines the Neoconservative approach, a perspective for which I feel some affection.
Beyond containment, deterrence, and economic integration lies a strategy that the British never employed against either Germany or Japan--internal subversion. Sorry, the polite euphemisms are "democracy promotion" and "human rights protection," but these amount to the same thing: The freer China becomes, the less power the Communist oligarchy will enjoy.

This reminds me of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which is credited in Sharansky's The Case for Democracy with playing a large role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The amendment
denied Normal Trade Relations to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted emigration rights. [Wikipedia]

As Sharansky said of the amendment:
in a closed society, freedom of emigration lowers the degree of control a regime can exercise over its subjects. When people have a right to leave a country, Sakharov explained, they are less afraid and more independent, they are more willing to stand up for the rights that everyone is being denied. [116]

Granted, the Max Boot article is advocating undermining the government's control not through immigration, but in other ways, but the end goal is the same. Specifically, Boot recommends:
The United States should aim to "Taiwanize" the mainland--to spread democracy through such steps as increased radio broadcasts and Internet postings. [...] American technology should be used to crack open, not cement, the authority of the Communist party. The United States needs to step up spending for the Chinese service of the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, the National Endowment for Democracy, and other organizations that aim to penetrate the Bamboo Curtain.

This could potentially reap benefits around the world. While China is the leader in censoring the internet, others do so as well.
In 2004 Congress allocated $1 million for a trial grant to the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a project to circumvent Beijing's Internet controls. That work needs to be greatly expanded. As suggested by the congressionally chartered U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, we need to create an Office of Global Internet Freedom within the executive branch that would work on undermining government controls on the web not only in China but also in dictatorships from Cuba to Syria.

Many bloggers are doing their part to ensure the free flow of information into China by creating mirror sites. Perhaps the government should step up their efforts as well.

Update: Survived SARS looks at the same article here.