A nervous Beijing has cracked down viciously on dissidents this year, jailing dozens of lawyers and human rights supporters and placing scores under enforced supervision or house arrest. Yet among the many activists keeping hopes for reform alive, two stand out. One surprising advocate from inside the system is Yu Keping, a bureaucrat and head of the government-advising China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics, whom the New York Times has described as a "mild-mannered policy wonk" and a proponent of slow but steady change. His straightforwardly titled essay, "Democracy Is a Good Thing," insists that China can transition into a democracy that works for the Chinese. In a China Daily op-ed this summer titled "Reform Must Be Incremental," Yu wrote that though the go-slow approach has been on balance good for China, "The country still lacks a mechanism to counter the selfish behavior of the bureaucracy, corruption is still rampant and public service rendered by the government is far from enough."
He Weifang, meanwhile, is an outspoken critic of the Chinese legal system who was sent to internal exile in Xinjiang for signing the Charter 08 manifesto against the government in 2008 and then was told last year that he couldn't leave the country. For He, a Peking University law professor and longtime writer on judicial abuses who says he sees China growing more repressive over time, reform cannot come fast enough. And if the Communist Party doesn't adapt, he has warned, "then that process of transformation will not occur peacefully, and if the extreme violence comes, then there will be no Communist Party. It is a case of adapt or die." So will it be Yu's way or He's?
Stimulus or austerity? Austerity.
America or China? America.
Arab Spring or Arab Winter? Arab Spring.
Reading list Montaigne's Politics, by Biancamaria Fontana; The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, by Hastings Rashdall; The Nine, by Jeffery Toobin.
Best idea Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Sina Weibo, played an instrumental role in promoting democracy all around the world.
Worst idea Say goodbye to Washington Consensus and say hello to what is being called the China Model.
Peter James Field/agencycrush.com