- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

I wish the Rolling Stones weren’t playing China tomorrow night. This is a band, after all, that jumped on the anti-South Africa bandwagon during the apartheid era. And like Nixon and Kissinger’s famous diplomatic journey to China in the ‘70s, not much good is likely to come of this latest cultural barrier breakdown, just as American corporations’ recent forays into the “market-Leninist” state haven’t compelled China to soften its totalitarian shell.

Samuel Huntington once wrote that empires go through, first, an outward “push” phase and then, after imperial overstretch, an inward “pull” phase. But China confounds the Huntingtonian formula; it seems now to be pushing outward as robustly as it is pulling inward. It accommodates Western luxury goods and Britney Spears and, now, Mick Jagger — and yet it threatens Taiwan and American interests in the Middle East and South America with something like impunity.

That said, I’d rather the Stones slake their own appetite for playing the mainland — they’ve wanted to for years, and on their last world tour, the SARS plague frustrated their plans — than to refuse to play there for the reasons that Paul McCartney cited: that is, China’s abuse of animals, as opposed to, you know, human beings.

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