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The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression

Recorded on February 27, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

In The China Fantasy, former Los Angeles Times Beijing Bureau Chief James Mann challenges the assumptions that have guided American policy toward China for more than three decades. Americans believe wrongly that with increasing prosperity and with the arrival of McDonald's and Starbucks, China will move inevitably toward political liberalization and democracy. U.S. leaders suggest, with waning conviction, that trade and investment will eventually bring an end to China's one-party system. But Mann argues that this is merely a new version of the old fallacy that the Chinese are becoming like us. In fact, Mann suggests, the newly enriched elites in cities like Beijing and Shanghai could turn out to be not the vanguard for democracy, but the driving force in favor of perpetuating an authoritarian regime.

Other works by James Mann include: Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship with China from Nixon to Clinton, and Beijing Jeep: The Short, Unhappy Romance of American Business in China. Copies of his latest book, The China Fantasy, will be available for purchase and to be signed by the author.