In This Review

Inklings of Democracy in China
Inklings of Democracy in China
By Suzanne Ogden
Harvard University Press, 2002, 430 pp

In contrast to the many China specialists who highlight the negative consequences of Beijing's continuing commitment to Leninism and one-party rule, Ogden trusts her personal observations during many trips to China to report that Chinese society has moved a significant distance from its earlier totalitarian arrangements. She solidly plants her analysis of the current prospects for more liberal pluralism in the context of a thoughtful review of traditional Chinese culture and its problems with modernization throughout the twentieth century. She treats in some detail China's recent experiences with local elections. But the strongest basis for her optimism comes from her analysis of the positive developments in Chinese society, especially with respect to health, education, living standards, and the general opening of minds -- areas in which she finds China well ahead of India. China will not necessarily develop into a Western-style democracy, she says, but it will become a blended system that will give a reasonably good life to its citizens.