What alternatives are available to China in the next one or two decades? ‘More of the same’ is not a likely scenario, because one-party rule is not optimal for coping with the challenges of modernization and global interdependence. A second model, Singapore's authoritarian capitalism, appeals to many CCP leaders. But Singapore's scale and way of life are so different that its example cannot be very relevant to China. Nor does the Soviet imperial model fit, because China does not suffer from imperial overreach as did the USSR. The post-Soviet Russian model—a move from rigid hierarchy to free enterprise anarchy—could await China. Both countries have lacked institutions of civil society that could stabilize the country if central authority collapses. Another alterative would be a return to regionalism, spurred by economic and ethnic differences within China. Some PRC leaders hope to find a Chinese way that transcends other models, but this is not realistic. The most useful model for China and the world would be a gradual transition from authoritarianism to multi-party democracy, as has taken place in Taiwan. In one or two decades, China could edge in that direction. If so, animosities between the mainland and Taiwan would also diminish, removing a thorn from U.S.–Chinese relations. Opportunities for mutual gain may then overshadow present tensions.

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