- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2010

China’s rapidly developing economic power likely will have little effect on the communist nation’s one-party rule, even though many societies experience increased democratization as their standards of living rise, scholars and analysts say.

“There is one big exception [to the rule], and that is China,” Ben Friedman, an economics professor at Harvard University, said Tuesday during a conference on U.S.-China relations at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Mr. Friedman went on to say that he does not think political freedoms would change much over the next 10 years, in which China is expected to grow considerably.

The conference of experts noted, however, that China’s growth does not necessitate a conflict with the current global power, the United States, and pointed to market forces and mutual investment to increase cooperation between the two nations.

“We welcome a competition, but we want the playing field to be fair,” Robert D. Hormats, under secretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs, said in an interview with The Washington Times.

Jia Qingguo, an international studies professor at Beijing University, encouraged caution and prudence on both sides, calling for some reforms in China and some political concessions from the United States.

“There are problems, but the stakes are high,” Mr. Jia said. “It’s in our interests to correct them.”

Alan Alexandroff, an international studies researcher at the University of Toronto, also said that the United States “must work beyond like-mindedness,” considering that China “does not see things as the U.S. does.”

“Neither the U.S. nor China knows how to deal with a multicentered global system,” he said. “We’re still feeling this out.”

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