China and East Asian Democracy: The Coming Wave

Issue Date January 2012
Volume 23
Issue 1
Page Numbers 5-13
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With the eruption of mass movements for democratic change throughout the Arab world in 2011, hopeful analysts of global democratic prospects have focused attention on the Middle East. But if a new regional wave of transitions to democracy unfolds in the next five to ten years, it is more likely to come from East Asia: Thailand is progressing back toward democracy; Malaysia and Singapore show signs of entering a period of democratic transition; Burma, to the surprise of many, is liberalizing politically for the first time in twenty years; and China faces a looming crisis of authoritarianism that will generate a new opportunity for democratic transition in the next two decades and possibly much sooner.