By accepting that authoritarian China inevitably will seize democratic Taiwan, too many Western commentators end up toeing the Communist Party’s line. Rather than seeing Taiwan’s future in present-day China, one can also imagine China’s future looking like present-day Taiwan.
CAMBRIDGE/CHICAGO – US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s headline-generating visit to Taipei has reminded the world how much Taiwan matters to China. But Taiwan also should matter to the democratic world.
It is no secret that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is committed to unifying Taiwan (which it views as a breakaway province) with the mainland. The United States formally recognized the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China in 1979, and Western powers have since mostly refrained from recognizing Taiwan as a separate country. This “One China” policy, together with rising nationalist sentiment in China, makes a Chinese takeover of the island in the coming decades seem likely, if not inevitable.
Some Western commentators believe that Pelosi acted recklessly by visiting the island. But they ignore how and why Taiwan also matters for the future of both democracy and China itself.
A common belief among Western policymakers and many commentators nowadays is that China will remain non-democratic for the foreseeable future, owing to its deeply authoritarian political culture. According to this view, the West’s “individualism” stands in stark contrast to China’s Confucian heritage, which entails rigid hierarchies not just in families but in all social settings. The implication is that the Chinese people are more willing to take their place within a pre-defined order of authority, and less willing to participate in democratic politics.
Hence, political scientist Samuel P. Huntington once asserted that “no scholarly disagreement exists regarding the proposition that traditional Confucianism was either undemocratic or antidemocratic.” And more recently, Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates writes: “All of these Chinese systems are hierarchical and non-egalitarian. … America is run from the bottom up (e.g., democracy) and optimized for the individual; China is run from the top down and optimized for the collective. … Democracy as we know it doesn’t have any roots in China.”
It is easy to see how the last 2,500 years of Chinese history might support these ideas. China has experienced many rebellions and the rise and fall of many powerful dynasties. Since democratic politics has been conspicuously absent through it all, many assume that China is bound to remain under the command of a strong leader presiding over a top-down regime, and Chinese state propaganda assiduously fosters this view. Chinese newspapers and political commentators constantly contrast the Chinese system’s efficiency to the West’s gridlocked politics, while also pointing out that it is more in line with Chinese values and culture.
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But is it? Hong Kong and Taiwan are cut from the same cultural cloth as mainland China, yet they rest on very different political systems. Until the CPC’s crackdown on Hong Kong in 2020, the island was in the process of building a vibrant democracy. And Taiwan is even more revealing. Since the 1980s, it has developed a robust democracy with broad-based participation. Far from being established and developed by elites, Taiwan’s system is the result of students and other ordinary citizens demanding more through democratic politics.
Democratic participation in Taiwan appears to have intensified over the last six years. The island’s dominant party for most of its history was the Kuomintang, founded by Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese nationalist who fled the mainland with his loyal troops and about 1.5 million supporters after being defeated in 1949 by the Communists. The current government, led by the Democratic Progressive Party, came to power in the 2016 general election, following widespread protests against the KMT’s efforts to ram through a trade deal with China despite significant opposition. During the protests, the student-led Sunflower Movement even occupied Parliament.
This was not just a passing phase of anger and protest. The Taiwanese are pioneers in digital democracy. Active political participation by different segments of society is the norm. That is why Taiwanese governments routinely consult the public on key decisions, such as ridesharing regulations and liquor sales.
Taiwan also hosts a “presidential hackathon” that allows citizens to make direct proposals to the president, and a digital platform provides data from most Taiwanese ministries, with the explicit purpose of encouraging civil society to improve government operations. And in the face of COVID-19, its government marshaled an effective response through democratic consultation, close collaboration with civil society, and new digital tools for testing and contact tracing.
Taiwan exhibits these strong democratic tendencies, not because it has undergone a Westernizing cultural transformation. Until 2000, the KMT regime leveraged Confucian values to set itself apart from the Communist regime in China, and subsequent surveys have shown that Confucian values are even more deeply held in Taiwan than on the mainland.
The island thus reinforces a point that we have made in previous work: It is misguided to assert any kind of unbreakable link between cultural values and political systems. All cultures, and particularly Confucian ones, should be viewed as highly adaptable to changing circumstances. Political regimes can rest on many cultural frames.
While Confucius did say that “commoners do not debate matters of government,” he also emphasized that “a state cannot stand if it has lost the confidence of the people.” Confucian thought recommends respect and obedience to leaders only if they are virtuous. It thus follows that if a leader is not virtuous, he or she can – and perhaps should – be replaced. This perfectly valid interpretation of Confucian values underpins Taiwanese democracy.
By contrast, CPC propaganda holds that Confucian values are utterly incompatible with democracy, and that there is no viable alternative to one-party rule. This is patently false. Democracy is as feasible in China as it is in Taiwan. No matter how strident the CPC’s bluster becomes, it will not extinguish people’s desire to participate in politics, complain about injustices, or replace leaders who misbehave. Taiwan matters because it represents an alternative political path for China – one that has long sustained freedom and prosperity in the West.
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Writing for PS since 2012
53 Commentaries

Daron Acemoglu, Professor of Economics at MIT, is co-author (with James A. Robinson) of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty (Profile, 2019) and The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty (Penguin, 2020).
Writing for PS since 2012
8 Commentaries

James A. Robinson, Institute Director of the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, is University Professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. He is the co-author (with Daron Acemoglu) of The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty, and Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty.
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If Professor Acemoglu studies why nations fail, I would suggest you take a look at what happened to the Nationalist Party Kuomingtang ("KMT") of China. At the end of WW2 in 1945, the KMT was in control, with support of America, better military and weapons, better resources, and a seat at the United Nations. But in 4 short years, it fled to Taiwan and took over Taiwan by launching "White Terror" against the Taiwan locals.

How could the KMT fall so completely and quickly? It just "won" in WW2! What was it doing that we see another nation also on the same path today? 1. Corruption at the top (re: Pelosi). 2. Dishonest government (re: Supreme Court Justices confirmed by lying.) 3. Massive irresponsible money printing (re: FOMC).

Pelosi went to Taiwan because it scores big points for her, because the Chinese just can't resist sitting idly by. But also because the US knows for sure China would only respond with drama, and sure that there is zero chance of war, because China is the sane party here.

Rather than directing attention to foreign pretended conflicts, true Americans should pay attention to the dangers at home. It takes a long time for the empire to crumble, but when it does, it crumbles quickly and can cause a lot of suffering. Use your knowledge wisely to face the elephant in the room. Don't let America follow the path of the KMT.
This is a Key Press Release by Xi Jinping on October 10, 2021.

Did the two professors EVER read this? Or do you just read from sources that aim to incite conflict and mistrust?

Use Google Translate to read it. It's not that long. But it is very important. May be a bit difficult to understand if you don't know Chinese history. But still, you'll be better informed than any of the lying "China experts". Get your information from the horse's mouth, not the horse's arse.

What did Xi promise, in his own words? Why did NO ONE from the West respond to this Key Press Release? Why? Because it doesn't fit their own selfish political agenda. Western politicians NEED conflicts to get elected. Because they CANNOT fix their own countries' problems. They have GIVEN UP their responsibilities of governing. So they need to do foreign conflict drama to get votes.

That is the sad status of today's so-called "Democracy". You murder color people in weak countries to get votes, not by serving your own People.
The notion that PRC and the ROC (aka Taiwan) are drastically different political systems is a notion that exists only on the minds of Western writers.
China's Confucian heritage as a reason why China might remain undemocratic? Even considering this is overthinking the matter. China will remain undemocratic because the Communist Party has the will and the means to maintain its iron grip on power indefinitely.
The authors haven’t really understood that the top-down system with centralised power is what has held China together for most of its 2200 years history, and every time China disintegrates, it is reconstituted through a new dynasty. A unified China has always been a key pillar of the Chinese identity, and it’s not just communists that hold this view, but also most Chinese before the communists won the civil war. As long as there is a risk that China might disintegrate as a result of adopting democracy, the drive toward unity will reassert itself and lead to a centralised form of governance, or at most democratic governance among most parts of China but authoritarian rule over the parts that threaten to break away. Actions by the US that seek to bolster Taiwan in its efforts toward independence will just lead to war, and the end of Taiwan as a democracy. How China will develop politically is best left to the Chinese themselves, while the West should seek to encourage dialogues and negotiations between China and Taiwan, instead of adding fuel to the fire in the name of democracy and freedom.
I’ve long thought that China was lucky to have a boot disk in Taiwan, as it were, for when their system fails, as it will. Whether or not these good, functional, and inspiring Taiwanese will be left in peace is debatable, but I do hope that we will adopt their more successful ideas over here. They have had decades of experience in resisting interference, and we surely could learn from their example.
Instead of going south-west and passing through the Taiwan Strait to help defend Taiwan, USS Ronald Reagan has lately been moving north-east, perhaps going back to Japan !

The supercarrier knows full well that she alone would suffer a humiliating defeat if she ventures into the area near Taiwan in the coming days, especially if the battle there persists for a long time.
Even if the US sends say five of her supercarriers to the Taiwan Strait all at the same time to help defend Taiwan, the US still can't successfully and persistently defend the island, simply because her naval bases in Japan and in other nearby islands in the Pacific Ocean are no match for China's vast military hinterland in case of a persistent military conflict.

Afterall, why defend Taiwan if she's not part of the US's territories ?
The US
(i) only cares about Taiwan's TSMC, for obvious reason, and
(ii) only wants to keep selling expensive second- or third-rate weapons to Taiwan.
After the most advanced chip-making technologies of TSMC have all been transferred to the US, Taiwan will entirely be on her own.
It's always been in the interest of the US to turn today's Taiwan into Asia's Ukraine, or turn the whole of today's Asia into today's Middle East.

Even today's Japan will have a hard time militarily defending herself, if Russia and China are going to form a formidable military alliance in the near future, unless the US allows Japan (and Taiwan) to own her own nuclear weapons.
Nancy Pelosi's visit farce shows vividly to all the world that today's US could no longer dominate the north-western parts of the Pacific Ocean.

You have missed a third point, and that is the US using Taiwan as a means to vilify isolate China from the international community. But many countries with separatist tendencies also understand very well why the Mainland is doing this. After Taiwan, it will be Xinjiang, Tibet, Guangxi, Mongolia………….
Right now, only 3 US supercarriers are in service : Ronald Reagan CSG (near Japan), Abraham Lincoln CSG (in the western coast of the US), and Harry S. Truman CSG (in the Mediterranean Sea).
Currently, only the Reagan carrier can be mobilized to start a military conflict with China.
The Lincoln carrier has been in service for too long a period of time (more than 6 months), and this "tired" carrier has to be replaced by another one, and so it now doesn't have much fighting power.
The Truman carrier's problems are even bigger. Recently a fighting plane had been blown into the sea. After investigation, 2 problems were discovered. One was a device ageing problem, another was the slacken off in sailors' work caused by salary arrears (starting from June this year), which in turn was caused by insufficient funding of the US Navy. Luckily the salary arrears hadn't caused any mutiny.

The other US carriers are now either in renovation, or in long repair (caused by insufficient funding and the decline in repairing ability of the US dockyards).
If the US wants to intervene in today's Taiwan, she needs at least 3 supercarriers and their accompanying warships, but now she even has a hard time sending 2 supercarriers to Taiwan.
The supercarriers of US's close allies are not going to China either.
Hence the strange routes of movement of Reagan CSG recently.

Even the military boots of the US soldiers are now being manufactured in China.
The powerful manufacturing industry in the US before WWII, and the US-enforced denial of Japan's access to oil, enabled the US and her allies to win WWII.
Today, given persistent offshoring and hence hollowing-out of her own manufacturing industries in the past decades, the US, together with her allies, can no longer be sure of easily winning the coming persistent regional military conflicts between themself and China-cum-Russia.

Suppose the Taiwan War eventually breaks out and both the US and China start enacting their own National Defense Mobilization Laws to manufacture and mobilize military weapons for use in the long military conflicts between the two sides.
Today's China, always the world's factory, will have no problem mass-manufacturing and mobilizing the necessary amounts of ammunitions and weapons for the War, not to mention her ability of organizing a formidable amount of army troops and sending them quickly to the warzone.
Today's US is no longer the US during WWII, her present full manufacturing capacity is, according to the US people themselves, perhaps only 20% of that during WWII or in the 1980s.
Furthermore, the US will have to fight a precarious two-front war against both Russia and China, and so her own amount of remaining weapon inventories will run out very quickly.
Also, the US may not send her own soldiers to the Taiwan warzone.

Taiwan is not Ukraine, once the War there started, the island will be fully encircled, and shut off from the rest of the world, by China, so that even though the West can produce enough weapons for use by both Ukraine and Taiwan at the same time, they will have a hard time sending those weapons to Taiwan.
The Chinese are very clever people, too clever indeed, and so Taiwan, unlike Ukraine, may quickly surrender not very long after the War has started.
Which means, an important part of the US's First Island Chain will be gone for good.

Many people only pay attention to the quality of the military weapons of both the US and China, but, according to a Taiwan professor, what really matters more is the quantity of weapons that can quickly be produced and replenished by both sides of the miltary conflict, especially if the conflict persists for a long time.

According to recent statistics, of all the US's GDP (which is the world's number 1 GDP), a very large proprotion is going to the country's medical, legal, and accounting professions (and to the Silicon Valley).
More than 80% of the country's GDP belongs to the service sector, with the manufacturing industry occupying only 10% of GDP.
This kind of economic model is only suitable for a peacetime economy, serving very well both the dollar hegemony and the global financial hegemony of today's US.
But once persistent military conflict breaks out between the US and China, today's China (like ancient Sparta) will become WWII US, with her now-massive manufacturing capacities being able to supply enough weapons and ammunitions for the persistent war, while the US (like ancient Athens) will be suffering from her decade-old problem of hollowing-out of her own manufacturing industries.

This hollowing-out problem of the US has been caused not only by
(i) manufacturing offshoring to China and other EM countries through past-decade full globalization alone, but also, perhaps to a larger extent, by
(ii) the Wall Street ——- the country's almost complete
neoliberalism-induced financialization of her own macroeconomy in the past decades. Capitalism (innovative investing and manufacturing) has been transformed into Creditism (debt-financed consumerism). Financial short-termism (making quick bucks in the Wall Street) has mostly replaced long-termism manufacturing (making slow bucks arduously in the Main Street).
Re-shoring and re-manufacturizing of the US in the coming years is much easier said than actually done.

Come to think of it, today, or the near future, is the best period of time for China to get back Taiwan.
(i) The US is facing both a potential popping of her everything asset bubble and a stagflationary problem. Presently, the US can't send all of her 11 supercarriers to Taiwan at the same time, and she also has to support Ukraine in the ongoing war.
(ii) the EU and Britain, facing the Ukraine War, are having even bigger energy, macroeconomic and geopolitical problems of their own,
(iii) Japan is not yet re-militarized by her new Prime Minister,
(iv) South Korea's attitude toward US is a bit strange,
(v) Taiwan hasn't had enough time to rearm her military troops, or to send the most valuable treasures in her National Palace Museum to the foreign countries. Many members of the incumbent ruling party of Taiwan, and their family members, are still living in Taiwan.

Whether Xi Jinping will do so to further consolidate his coming rule of China remains to be seen.

If the US is now trying to "touch" China's bottom line which is Taiwan, China should counterstrike not by starting a military conflict with the US near the Taiwan Strait, but by touching the US's bottom line in return —— keep attenuating the global hegemony of the US dollar.

One way for China to do so is that Xi Jinping can pay a visit to Saudi Arabia in the near future, and encourage OPEC+ to also denominate and transact oil with China in the future using both China's own currency (the yuan) and Shanghai's oil futures exchange.
The subsequent yuan earnings of Saudi Arabia (and other OPEC+ countries) can be
(i) reinvested in China's central government treasuries market, earning positive real rates, instead of the OPEC+ countries' foolishly keeping destroying their own precious capital through continued investments in the West's treasuries markets earning negative real rates, thereby enabling the yuan to repeat the success story of the US dollar, which started to link herself with Saudi's oil in the 1960-70s.
(ii) used to buy China's ballistic-missile weapons to help themselves defend against Israel,
(iii) used to pay for China's coming infrastructure developments in Saudi Arabia,
(iv) used to import China's future exported merchandises to her.

(A) If Saudi Arabia refuses to do so, China can start to import
(a) more and more oil from Russia (denominated in yuan alone), and
(b) less and less oil from Saudi and other OPEC+ countries (still denominated in US dollar),
in the future.
(B) If the Saudis agree to do so, China can start exporting much less trinkets to the US in the future, and eliminating her exports tax rebates, because she no longer needs as many US dollars as before to import energy, food, and commodities from other countries.
This will diminish the current circular flow of the US dollar between the US and the rest of the world, bid up both the US treasuries yield curve and the structural inflation rate in the US in the coming decades, and encourage the US to keep printing more and more money out of thin air and so debasing her own currency in order to keep importing merchandises from other exporting countries, like what the ancient Roman Empire did in the latter stage of her hegemony.

The US will avoid direct military conflicts with China, just like she is now avoiding direct military conflicts between herself and Russia.
Instead of sacrificing the precious lives of her own soldiers, the US will instead choose to use more and more Agency Wars (like today's Ukraine War) to attain similar military targets of her own.
The reason is simple enough.
Persistent and uncontrollable military conflicts between two military superpowers may end up as mutual annihilations of both sides of the conflicts.

(i) it's really stupid of Taiwan (excluding the incumbent ruling party of Taiwan) to become Asia's Ukraine in the near future,
(ii) Taiwan's TSMC will probably become France's Alstom in the coming years (a similar script should already have been written by the US), and after that the US will no longer really care about the safety of Taiwan,
it is actually in the interest of today's Taiwan to
(a) keep the most advanced chip-making technology in Taiwan, by not transferring the technologies to the US,
(b) replace TSMC's vast US market with the even larger Chinese market in the coming decades, and
(c) seek China's full military and other protections against the US's coming probable retaliations of all kinds.
The above changes obviously need an overthrow of the current ruling party of Taiwan, which China may facilitate by instigating a Hong-Kong-like Color Revolution in the island in the near future.

The present Taiwan Crisis has also been caused partly by the US's internal bipartisan politics, according to a Taiwan politics commentator.
Fierce competitions between the two political parties in the US, as in most other fierce human competitions, almost always end up going to extremes.

Donald Trump's generous act of giving stimulus checks to the US people after the outbreak of the pandemic was also followed by a similar act of checks-giving by the Biden Administration, which combined to produce the ongoing runaway inflation in the US, thereby unfortunately giving nascent MMT a bad name in the country.

Also, Donald Trump's populist enmity towards China, represented by
(i) his high imports tariffs imposed on China,
(ii) the whatever-it-takes suppression of Huawei, and
(iii) the US-cum-Taiwan-instigated Color Revolution in Hong Kong in 2019,
was also inherited, and further strengthened, by the incumbent Biden administration, and hence
(a) the US's present refusal to relax the past trade tariffs imposed on China,
(b) the US's latest semiconductor bill imposed on South Korea and Taiwan, disallowing them to further invest in the semiconductor industry in China in the future, and
(c) the latest visit of Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi.

So much for the widely-hailed US democratic vote-begging election system.
I don't know how to solve this going-to-extremes human problem.
Do you ?

According to Niall Ferguson, Henry Kissinger's good friend,
"It is conventional to argue that partisan polarization is the curse of modern American politics.
There is only one thing that scares me more, however, and that is bipartisan consensus.
Democrats and Republicans agree on almost nothing nowadays.
But they do agree that resisting China’s rise should be the foundation of American foreign policy.
I, too, would loathe to live in a world where China called the shots.
But is Joe Biden’s deeply flawed grand strategy making such a world less likely? Or more?
If the choice is between war over Taiwan and a decade of detente, I’ll take the dirty French word."

It seems that today's US
(a) has still been ignoring the quick wakening up of the sleeping Chinese giant,
(b) is still immersing herself in her eventual victory in the Cold War of the last century,
(c) continues to believe that the rest of the world is ready to adopt her own political system,
(d) keeps ignoring China's current ability to annihilate all of her installed assets in the western parts of the Pacific Ocean,
(e) fails to admit that she can be militarily defeated by China,
(f) never realizes that she can no longer impose her own will on today's China,
(g) never accepts the fact that China has now become the leaders in some of the high-tech industries of the world and she is now also becoming one of the world's military superpowers.

Taiwan's TSMC really matters to the US, for obvious reason.
It's said that TSMC is going to build 6 factories in the US, and the first one is now being built there.
But today, it's no longer in the interest of TSMC, and hence in the interest of Taiwan, to set up similar chip-manufacturing factories in the US.

Initially, Taiwan agrees to set up new semiconductor factories in the US partly in exchange for the US's continued military protection of herself.
But after China's latest military drill surrounding the whole of the Taiwan island, Taiwan eventually discovers that the US will hardly start a genuine military conflict with China, let alone sending her own soldiers to fight bloodily in the Taiwan warzone, and so she increasingly feels that the US only wants her to become Asia's Ukraine.

According to a Taiwan commentator, one response of Taiwan's such feeling is probably that TSMC will be building the first factory in the US very slowly, and so will South Korea's Samsung.
Taiwan's excuse of the delay can easily be found by her, like the relatively low efficiency of the workers in the US.
Even though the US is going to cooperate with Japan in the next-generation semiconductor development, Japan's newest semiconductor factory can hardly fully replace Taiwan's TSMC.
Japan is really a very peculiar and unique country.
If the US slaps her on the right cheek, she'll politely turn to the US the other also.

In 1996, during China's military drill in the Taiwan Strait as a result of Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's visit to the US, two supercarriers were sent by the US to China, and the American fleet passed through the Taiwan Strait without encountering any offensive resistance from China.
But this time is really different.
The adolescent elephant that was China in 1996 has now grown up to be a strong adult elephant in 2022, and the young and strong rinhos that were the American carriers in 1996 have now become older adult rinhos in 2022.

It's said that once China gets back Taiwan, China will have a new unsinkable supercarrier of her own.
Well, so far as supercarrier is concerned, today's China herself is actually the largest unsinkable supercarrier in the Western Pacific, so that today, the few supercarriers to be sent by the West to the Taiwan area, if any, are, from China's viewpoint, just a child's toy boats.
The West's supercarriers in the Far Ocean are formidable weapons and so are very useful, but near the coast of continental China, they are no different from swimming floaties.

The current supercarrier fleet of the US has been able to subdue smaller countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, but no longer today's China.
It's said that, even without explosion, the massive collision force alone from China's Dongfeng-17 hypersonic ballistic missile say, with unpredictable trajectory, will be able to sink a coming US supercarrier far away in the ocean.

So, to cope with the new threats form China, the US military needs to quickly renovate, change or upgrade many of her striking weapons in the near future.
But it will take at least 5 years for the US to upgrade most of her important military striking weapons.
Which means, the third term of Xi Jinping's reign in China, from 2023 – 2027, is the most dangerous period for Taiwan, since China will probably choose to unify Taiwan before the US has fully completed the above upgrade mission.

According to Wiki, "The Gallipoli campaign was a military campaign in the First World War that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula, from 17 February 1915 to 9 January 1916.
The Entente powers, Britain, France and Russia, sought to weaken the Ottoman Empire, one of the Central Powers, by taking control of the Ottoman straits.
It was a costly campaign for the Entente powers and the Ottoman Empire as well as for the sponsors of the expedition, especially the First Lord of the Admiralty (1911–1915), Winston Churchill.
The campaign was considered a great Ottoman victory."
Sea to sea, China is no US, but sea to shore, as shown by the above campaign more than a century ago, the US and her allies is no China.

Today's military campaign between two superpowers has in essence been reduced to an electronic computer war game : discover – aim at – destroy.
The side who strikes first or suddenly will usually be the eventual winner.

Many many years ago, a Taiwan army officer said that if China invaded Taiwan, Taiwan would fire ballistic missiles to both Shanghai and Hong Kong in retaliation.
Today, it's quite geopolitically urgent for China to unify Taiwan, and further prevent any foreign warship from approaching her most important coastal cities from the far ocean, by setting up say a 1,000 km safety buffer coastal warzone relative to all her coastline.

In the morning of August 19 (Japan's time), the US supercarrier Ronald Reagan has gone back to her navel base in Japan's Yokosuka.
It's unclear what it'll do next.
The latest Chinese military drill around Taiwan should have taken the US by surprise, considering China's relatively mild reactions following the US's provocations of all sorts in the past (like the US-cum-Taiwan instigated Color Revolution in Hong Kong in 2019).
If more aggressive Bo Xilai, instead of relatively mild Xi Jinping, were the Chinese top leader in the past decade, China would've taken the US by surprise much earlier than is the case today.

It can be argued that both
(i) China's relatively mild reactions towards the US's incessant provocations in the past, and
(ii) Russia's relatively mild reactions against the constant eastern expansion of the NATO and the EU,
have kept sending a wrong signal to the West, encouraging the latter to go further and further.

Today, the latest much more aggressive signals sent by both Russia and China to the West, in Ukraine and in Taiwan respectively, will actually result in a more peaceful long-term geopolitical environment than is commonly thought, since a new sort of Balance of Terror between the East and the West has just been established.

You don't mention the size of the state – geographical and demographic dimensions. Democracy is easier in small states because the organising power is closer to local populations. The United States is a federation of small states, most or many of which have had robust traditions of internal self-government even before becoming part of the federation. History and geography combined determine political culture and method, surely.
Is the US government really a democracy governs with the consent of the people?
Reality checK.
Rasmussen Report had carried out a series of 9 polls from 2010 to 2018 asking likely voters whether the US government had the consent of the governed. About 1 out of 4 said YES according to all of the polls.

All 9 links of the Rasmussen Report:
The US has only had democracy (sort of, since the senate is not proportionally represented and the presidential candidates are pre-selected by insiders) since the civil rights act. And after less than 60 years, it is falling apart mostly because many white voters feel they are losing their privilege and US democracy is no longer giving them the advantages that they are used to having. Interestingly, US politicians are going after autocratic foreign regimes as if vanquishing them will somehow strengthen democracy at home. China has experimented with different models of governance for millenia, and there has been vigorous debate about the various forms of government since the Zhou dynasty, during the periods called the Spring and Autumn period and the warring states period. The different states tried to gain advantage over each other by fine tuning their economic and political systems. The West thinks that the Chinese don't understand the advantages of Western style democracy, whereas the Chinese actually knows too much about its disadvantages. The Chinese looks at history in hundred or thousand year spans, whereas the West just looks at history in the immediate past (since WWII). Few commentators bother to analyse European history back to the Greeks and to understand why Athenian democracy did not propagate to the rest of Europe. From what I can see, democracy only works when people are benevolent towards one another, but this is only possible during the short intervals when there is prosperity. When there is hardship, people turn against each other and democracy breaks down. We can see this time after time only if we bother (or dare) to look. And no, human civilisation has not advanced to such a degree that we will behave in a different way from our forefathers. That's why democracy has been "in retreat" globally since the late 1990s.
"Isaiah Berlin, one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers, believed that "the central question of politics [is] the question of obedience and coercion." At its most basic level, the scholar framed the question like this: "Why should I (or anyone) obey anyone else?"

That question goes right to the core of discussions about how a government can earn the legitimacy it needs to function. It's the question our Founders had in mind when they said that governments derive their only just authority from the consent of the governed. It's a question that needs to be asked at a time when a majority of Americans view both leading presidential candidates unfavorably.

The success of the tech world comes from the fact that the new tools have to earn our support…

Unfortunately, the political world makes no such effort to earn our support. Unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats simply pass rules without giving any thought to why we should obey them. The rules are imposed in a top-down manner with no pretense of being justified by the consent of the governed."
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With recent data showing that both inflation and inflation expectations have eased, it would be irresponsible for the US Federal Reserve to create much higher unemployment. Amid so much uncertainty, it should instead pause interest-rate hikes until a more reliable assessment of macroeconomic conditions is possible.
Since World War II, Britain’s influence in the world has relied on its “special relationship” with the United States, its position as head of the Commonwealth (the British Empire’s successor), and its position in Europe. The Americans are still there, but Europe isn’t, and now the head of the Commonwealth isn’t, either.
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