...we do not. Every authoritarian organization on the planet practices "information arbitrage". One of the central problems with China, however, is the utter lack of transparency the Western world has when evaluating its economic system and growth prospects.
It is precisely because of this secrecy, this "weak hand", that I assume the worst is occuring. And so the PRC must continue to tightly control any dissent lest control be lost.
And just as Against this backdrop of political stability and economic growth, the most credible interpretation of the government’s recent hard line is that the forces pushing its leaders towards greater liberalisation at home and sympathetic engagement with the West are weaker than had been hoped. Nor is there any sign that the next generation of leaders see their mission differently. As Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based political analyst, puts it: “The argument in policy-making circles where reform is concerned is ‘how much more authoritarian should we be?’ not ‘how do we embark on Western-style democracy?’”
Tough though the recent sentences of activists have been, they are hardly out of keeping with the leadership’s approach to dissent in recent years. This has involved giving a bit of leeway to freethinking individuals, but occasionally punishing those seen as straying too far.