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The China Fantasy

The China Fantasy
Friday, March 2 at 7 PM

We hear so often about the Chinese capitalist miracle — the glittering Shanghai skyline, the booming businesses in Shenzhen, the soaring real estate prices in Beijing — we have begun to assume democracy will follow. But what if we are, in fact, repeating the old mistake of believing the Chinese are becoming like us? In The China Fantasy, James Mann describes the "Starbucks fallacy" about China: that as China grows more affluent (and its consumers get more choices of coffee), they will eventually demand to choose their political leaders, too. But China's emerging middle class — the people whom visiting Americans get to know on trips to the country — may well turn out not to be the vanguard of democratic change, but defenders of the status quo.