Books in Brief

End of an Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival Is Undermining Its Rise, by Carl Minzner (Oxford University Press; 296 pp., $29.95).

Back in the 1980s, there was reason to hope that China would succeed in reforming, or at least softening, its authoritarian political system to bring it more in line with the capitalist world. This huge nation of 1.4 billion souls might have a genuine chance of becoming a normal member of what many call “the community of nations.” To do so, it would have to restrain its impulses to purge reformers and other sensible younger technocrats, and to modernize in a fashion that might do away with the uncertainty and fear that Mao Zedong and his cronies initiated decades earlier. The long-standing state policies of censorship, enforced party loyalty, harassment of political opponents, top-down control of the economy, forced sterilization and abortion, and other destructive and inhumane state programs, would have to be reversed.

As Minzner, a China scholar and Professor of Law at Fordham, details in this timely book, these changes aren’t happening any time soon. He describes how President Xi Jinping set himself up as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, further consolidating his own power and cracking down on reform and modernization. The optimism and positive momentum predicted after President Bill Clinton’s support in 2000 for China’s access to the World...

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