Region: East Asia

April 2019, Volume 30, Issue 2

30 Years After Tiananmen: Hong Kong Remembers

It was the impact of Tiananmen that made the democracy movement in Hong Kong a mass phenomenon. Today, the democratic cause in Hong Kong remains linked to the democratic cause in China as a whole.

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

South Korea After Impeachment

After a presidential corruption scandal sparked peaceful mass protests leading to the impeachment and removal of the incumbent, South Koreans went to the polls to choose her successor. Was this drama a window on the troubles of South Korean democracy, or a testament to its strength and resilience?

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from an open letter calling for the release of democracy activists in Hong Kong; excerpts from the inaugural address of new South Korean president Moon Jae In.

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

Liu Xiaobo (1955–2017)

On July 13, imprisoned Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer, after long being denied appropriate medical treatment. A well-known essayist and poet, he was arrested just after the Tiananmen Square massacre for his support of the protesters. After spending a year and a half in prison, he continued…

July 2017, Volume 28, Issue 3

China’s Disaffected Insiders

The CCP regime has lost support among three groups it should normally be able to count on: street-level police, retired military officers, and state employees who are drafted into stifling dissent on the part of their own relatives. 

October 2016, Volume 27, Issue 4

Transition in China? More Likely Than You Think

Evidence from social science and history suggests that China is entering a “transition zone” that will threaten its capacity to maintain both authoritarian rule and high levels of economic growth.

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July 2016, Volume 27, Issue 3

Xi Jinping’s Maoist Revival

Far from being a reformer, as some had hoped, President Xi Jinping has launched the most sweeping ideological campaign seen in China since Mao. Xi is mixing nationalism, Leninism, and Maoism in ways that he hopes will cement continued one-party Communist rule.

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April 2016, Volume 27, Issue 2

The Puzzle of the Chinese Middle Class

Seymour Martin Lipset argued that economic development would enlarge the middle class, and that the middle class would support democracy. To what extent will this general proposition prove true of China?

July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

China After the Reform Era

The post–post-Mao era has now begun. The reforms that brought economic growth and greater openness to China are being unwound, while an assertive new leader strikes off in a populist and nationalist direction.

April 2015, Volume 26, Issue 2

Millennials and East Asia’s Democratic Future

East Asia’s millennials have grown up in an age of rapid socioeconomic progress, allowing them to become better educated, more urbanized, and more technologically connected than previous generations. Will they use their collective power to become agents of democratic change?

January 2015, Volume 26, Issue 1

China’s Challenge

As China’s power grows, will it seek to remake the world in its authoritarian image? For now, China shows no such missionary impulse, but the ways in which it pursues its interests can still threaten the fate of democracy.

April 2013, Volume 24, Issue 2

Review Essay: A Voice from the North Korean Gulag

Evidence of the evil perpetrated in North Korea’s prison camps continues to emerge, as most vividly highlighted by Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? Goodbye to Gradualism

China is heading toward a tipping point, with two likely scenarios for how a political opening will come about. Most Chinese intellectuals think that only gradualism—“slow and steady,” step-by-step reform—can offer China a safe and feasible path toward liberal democracy. But they are wrong. Instead of “taking it slow,” China should shun gradualism and opt…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Rising Cost of Stability

Although the Chinese Communist Party has tried to institutionalize the political system in the reform era, such efforts have been hampered by the Maoist legacy. To cope with challenges from the society, the CCP mainly relies on a highly centralized and resource-intensive weiwen system, and shows little respect for institutional differentiation and formal procedures.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Turn Against Legal Reform

Over the past decade, Chinese authorities have turned against many of the legal reforms they themselves had enacted in the late 20th century. Lawyers have come under increased pressure. Political campaigns warning against rule-of-law norms have rippled through the courts. And central authorities have massively increased funding for extralegal institutions aimed at curtailing and suppressing…

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? The Troubled Periphery

The response of the Chinese state (and of Chinese society at large) to the problems of the country’s periphery—Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, as well as hundreds of counties, prefectures, and townships in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and other areas—is piling more tension and misery upon the populations there, but it is not undermining state power.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

China at the Tipping Point? From “Fart People” to Citizens

In recent years, Chinese netizens have shown boundless creativity and ingenuity in expressing themselves despite government restrictions on online speech. Will new political discourse give birth to a new political identity? Are new forms of networked communication enhancing opportunities for social change and helping to move China toward a “threshold” for political transformation?