Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mistranslation and misunderstanding – the unlikely origins of China’s ‘U-shaped line’ claim in the South China Sea


By Bill Hayton, Author of ‘The South China Sea: the struggle for power in Asia’ 
Yale 2014

demographic map only bay Hundred Viet's 
How did China come to claim an underwater feature over 1500km from Hainan as its ‘southernmost
territory’? Answering this question will help us understand how the authorities of the Republic of China
came to draw the ‘U-shaped line’ in the South China Sea. In the process we will see how one of the most
dangerous territorial disputes in the world today has its origins in early 20th century misunderstandings
among Chinese nationalists about Southeast Asia’s history and British maps.
The James Shoal (Zengmu Ansha in Chinese, Beting Serupai in Malay) lies 22 metres below the surface of the
South China Sea. Hydrographic charts clearly demonstrate that the Shoal is not part of China’s
continental shelf; wide areas of deep sea separate it from the mainland. There are no grounds under the
United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for any state to claim the James Shoal as
‘territory’. It lies more than 12 nautical miles from any coast and is therefore simply part of the seabed.
There are no historic documents showing evidence of Chinese interest in the Shoal and no old Chinese
maps marking it. Yet none of these difficulties prevent PLA-Navy ships visiting the Shoal from time to
time to assert Chinese sovereignty over it.
The origins of this situation lie in what Chinese commentators call ‘The Century of National Humiliation’
and particularly the series of so-called ‘unequal treaties’ between the Qing Dynasty and the colonial
powers. One result was a profound anxiety among the Chinese elite about the extent of ‘their’ territory.
As anti-colonial sentiment gave rise to a ‘national revival’ movement among this elite, agitators and
intellectuals formed new understandings about the nature of China itself and its historic relationships with
Southeast Asia.
These understandings moved from private discussions into state policy as the Qing Dynasty collapsed. In
March 1909 Chinese fishermen discovered a Japanese entrepreneur, Nishizawa Yoshiji, and around
hundred workers on Pratas Island, a coral reef 400 kilometres southwest of (Japanese-occupied) Taiwan
and about 260 kilometres from the Chinese mainland. They were digging up guano to sell as fertiliser.
Nishizawa declared that he had discovered the island and it now belonged to him.
When news reached Canton (Guangzhou), one group of nationalist agitators, the Self-Government
Society, launched a boycott of Japanese goods and demanded the Qing authorities do something. The
authorities in Tokyo offered to recognise Chinese sovereignty if its claim could be proved. 1 On 12
October 1909 the Viceroy of Canton and the Japanese consul in the city agreed that Japan would
recognise Chinese sovereignty and Mr Nishizawa would vacate the island in exchange for 130,000 silver
dollars in compensation. 2
At this time, official Chinese maps (whether national, regional or local) showed Hainan Island as the
southernmost point of Chinese territory. This had been the case on maps published in 1760, 1784, 1866
and 1897.3 But in May 1909, while the negotiations over Pratas unfolded, the Governor of Guangdong,
Zhang Yen Jun, despatched a boat to the Paracel Islands. According to a contemporary account by a
French businessman P.A. Lapique, the expedition (guided by two Germans from the massive trading firm
Carlowitz and Company) spent two weeks at anchor off Hainan waiting for good weather and then sped
to the Paracels on 6 June 1909 before returning to Canton/Guangzhou the following day.4 In the
aftermath of the expedition a new map of Guangdong was published showing, for the first time on any
Chinese map, the Paracel Islands as part of the province. 5
After the overthrow of the Qing, one of the first acts by the new republican government was the
publication, in 1912 of an official Almanac. The Almanacincluded an official map of China: a highly
unusual map since it showed no borders at all. The new national leadership was avowedly ‘modern’ – it
aspired to become part of the international system – but as William Callahan has pointed out, it couldn’t
resolve the contradiction between China’s new identity as a nation-state and its old one as the centre of a
mandala-based series of hierarchical relationships with the wider region. The first constitution of the
Republic of China illustrated this perfectly when it asserted that ‘The sovereign territory of the Republic of
China continues to be the same as the domain of the former Empire.’ This simple equation of the old
‘domain’ with the new ‘sovereign territory’ fundamentally misconstrues the historic relations between
Chinese dynasties and Southeast Asia and underpins the current disagreement over ‘borders’ in the South
China Sea. 6
The discussion about the extent of Chinese territory continued among nationalist intellectuals throughout
the first half of the 20th Century. Zou Keyuan has shown how, in December 1914, a private cartographer
Hu Jinjie, published the New Geographical Atlas of the Republic of China containing the first Chinese map to
include a line drawn across the South China Sea. Hu entitled the map the ‘Chinese territorial map before
the Qianglong-Jiaqing period’. In other words the line purported to represent the extent of Chinese state
‘control’ before 1736. Significantly, the only islands within the line were Pratas and the Paracels. It went
no further south than 15° N. 7
In 1916 the Central Cartographic Society in Shanghai published a ‘Map of National Humiliation’ showing
the territories lost to foreigners. Interestingly, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tonkin were prominently marked
but no mention was made of anywhere else in the South China Sea.
In July 1933, France formally annexed six islands in the Spratly archipelago. It’s clear from contemporary
accounts in, for example, the Shen Bao newspaper, that the RoC authorities did not know the location of
these islands. They instructed the Chinese consul in Manila, Mr KL Kwong, to ask the American colonial
authorities there for a map showing their location. Only then was the government in Nanjing able to
understand that these islands were not in the Paracels and then decide not to issue any formal protest.8 A
once-secret report for the RoC’s Military Council, from 1 September 1933 seems to confirm this, “All our
professional geographers say that Triton Island [in the Paracels] is the southernmost island of our
territory.”9 (There are claims by some writers that the Chinese government did issue a formal protest but
I have seen no evidence.)
On 7 June 1933, shortly before the French annexation (perhaps as rumours of a French expedition began
to circulate), the RoC established the ‘Review Committee for Land and Water Maps’. While the
committee deliberated, another private cartographer, Chen Duo, published his Newly-Made Chinese Atlas in
which the Chinese sea border stretched down to 7° N – firmly including those Spratly Islands which
France had just claimed.
It seems that this influenced the Committee because the first volume of its journal, published in January
1935, included Chinese names for 132 features in the South China Sea that the Committee believed
rightfully belonged to China. 28 were in the Paracels and 96 in the Spratlys. The list was not a collection
of traditional Chinese names for the features but transliterations and translations of the Western names
printed on British navigation charts. In the Spratly Islands, for example, North Danger became Be ̆i xiăn
(the Chinese for ‘north danger’) and Spratly Island became Si-ba-la-tuo (the Chinese transliteration of the
English name). In the Paracels, Antelope Reef (named after a British survey vessel) became Líng yang (the
Chinese word for antelope) and Money Island (named after William Taylor Money, the Superintendent of
the Bombay Marine) became Jīn yín Dǎ(money island).
But how to translate ‘shoal’? It’s a nautical word meaning an underwater feature. It’s derived from an Old
English word for ‘shallow’. But the Committee didn’t seem to understand this obscure term because they
translated ‘shoal’ as ‘tan’ - the Chinese word for beach or sandbank – a feature that is usually above water.
The Committee – never having visited the area seems to have declared James Shoal/Zengmu Tan to be a
piece of land and therefore a piece of China.10
In April 1935, the Committee published The Map of Chinese Islands in the South China Sea taking the
country’s sea border right down to James Shoal, only 107 kilometres from the coast of Borneo.11 Then
one of China’s most eminent geographers, Bai Meichu, added his own innovation. Bai had been one of
the founders of the China Geographical Society. He was also an ardent nationalist and in 1930 had drawn
his own version of the ‘Chinese National Humiliation Map’ to educate his countrymen about how much
territory they had lost to foreigners. 12
In 1936, at the age of 60, he created his most enduring legacy: a map in his New China Construction Atlas
including a U-shaped line snaking around the South China Sea as far south as James Shoal. This was then
copied by others. Between 1936 and 1945 versions of the line were published on 26 other maps. Some
stretched down to the James Shoal, though most only included the Spratlys. 13
In 1947 the Republic’s cartographers revisited the question of China’s ocean frontier. They adopted Bai’s
line, formally including would become known as the ‘U-shaped line’ on the country’s map. It seems that
they looked at the list of Chinese names, assumed that Zengmu Tan was above water and included it within
the line. A non-existent island became the country’s southernmost territory. Only then was the tan
redesignated an ansha (reef) – but by then the line had been drawn. Thus it would seem that China’s claim
in the South China Sea is, to some extent, based on a translation error.
END

Saturday, March 28, 2015

‘China alone in claims to sea’

By Vito Barcelo | Mar. 27, 2015 at 12:01am


NO nation in the world recognizes China’s nine-dash claim in the South China Sea and the weakness of its legal base is the reason Beijing is undertaking massive reclamation in disputed waters, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
“It reaffirms the belief that no country in the world recognizes that the nine-dash line is a valid claim on the part of China,” Del Rosario said at a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
Right is might. Foreign Affairs Secretary
Albert del Rosario answers questions during a
forum of the Foreign Correspondents
Association of the Philippines in Manila where
he stressed that no country in the world
recognizes China’s claim in the South China
and West Philippine Seas. AFP PHOTO /
NOEL CELIS
Del Rosario accused China of accelerating its expansionist agenda by changing the size, structure and physical attributes of land features in the South China Sea and have even rammed Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea, endangering the lives of fishermen.
“China is aware it has to engage in a battle of public opinion and shape the narrative in its favor given the weak legal case it is standing on,” Del Rosario said, adding that the Philippines chose to pursue international arbitration “to preserve a valued friendship” with China.
The DFA chief highlighted the international community’s significant support for the Philippines’ advocacy for a peaceful and rules-based settlement of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.
 Del Rosario welcomed the growing international support after United States Senators John McCain, Bob Corker, Jack Reed and Bob Menendez warned that China’s land reclamation and construction in the region could be considered “a direct challenge, not only to the interests of the United States and the region, but to the entire international community.”
Del Rosario described the US lawmakers view as very helpful, saying it brings into focus with the international community the differences in terms of what is being said and what is happening on the ground.
“We welcome the statements made and we also welcome the call for a more substantive support and focus on the Asia rebalance strategy of the United States,” he added.
Del Rosario said a comprehensive US strategy on Chinese reclamation would likewise add an important voice to Manila’s arbitration case against China.
The Philippines likewise welcomed the Vietnam’s and Indonesia’s stand against China’s continue expansionism in the south China, adding  describing it as helpful in terms of promoting the rule of law and in finding peaceful and nonviolent solutions to the South China Sea claims.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has earlier announced that part of China’s claims to almost the entire the South China Sea has no legal basis.
“The ‘nine-dash line’ that China says marks its maritime border has no basis in any international law,” Jokowi said.
Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Bin said his government told the Permanent Court of Arbitration that Vietnam fully rejected “China’s claim over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes and the adjacent waters.”
China claimed sovereignty over 90% of the water and all the islands in the South China Sea by drawing a nine-dash line covering 90% of that sea, prompting her neighbors to protest that her claim contradicts international law, specifically the 1982 UNCLOS.
“Even as the Philippines filed arbitral proceedings under Article 287 of UNCLOS, however, China continues to undertake unilateral measures that form part of a pattern of forcing a change in the regional status quo in order to advance and realize its ‘nine-dash line’ claim of undisputed sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea,”  Del Rosario said.
“As the arbitration case proceeds, everyone should have a deep appreciation of the case, in the context of our policy on the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
China backs the level of the resources it has poured on consolidating its presence in the South China Sea with an aggressive public diplomacy campaign, in its domestic public, the region and international community, and – as some of you may have noticed -- even in the Philippine public.
He said China is aware that it has to engage in the battle of public opinion and shape the narrative in its favor given the weak legal base that its claims are standing on.
“That said, it is my hope that all Filipinos can work together with us in standing behind our country’s position,” Del Rosario said.
“Ours is a principled position. The challenge, therefore, is to continue communicating effectively and efficiently our principled position on the West Philippine Sea issue.   Even as we face a formidable challenge, we have the law on our side.  International law is the great equalizer,” he said.
Del Rosario expressed confidence that doing the right thing will help the Philippines get what it think is right.
“We are, moreover, in the right. And right is might, ” Del Rosario concluded.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Coming Chinese Crackup


The endgame of communist rule in China has begun, and Xi Jinping’s ruthless measures are only bringing the country closer to a breaking point

Chinese President Xi Jinping, front center, and other Chinese leaders attend the opening meeting on Thursday of the third session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.ENLARGE
Chinese President Xi Jinping, front center, and other Chinese leaders attend the opening meeting on Thursday of the third session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. PHOTO: XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS
On Thursday, the National People’s Congress convened in Beijing in what has become a familiar annual ritual. Some 3,000 “elected” delegates from all over the country—ranging from colorfully clad ethnic minorities to urbane billionaires—will meet for a week to discuss the state of the nation and to engage in the pretense of political participation.
Some see this impressive gathering as a sign of the strength of the Chinese political system—but it masks serious weaknesses. Chinese politics has always had a theatrical veneer, with staged events like the congress intended to project the power and stability of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP. Officials and citizens alike know that they are supposed to conform to these rituals, participating cheerfully and parroting back official slogans. This behavior is known in Chinese as biaotai, “declaring where one stands,” but it is little more than an act of symbolic compliance.
Despite appearances, China’s political system is badly broken, and nobody knows it better than the Communist Party itself. China’s strongman leader,Xi Jinping, is hoping that a crackdown on dissent and corruption will shore up the party’s rule. He is determined to avoid becoming theMikhail Gorbachev of China, presiding over the party’s collapse. But instead of being the antithesis of Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Xi may well wind up having the same effect. His despotism is severely stressing China’s system and society—and bringing it closer to a breaking point.
Predicting the demise of authoritarian regimes is a risky business. Few Western experts forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union before it occurred in 1991; the CIA missed it entirely. The downfall of Eastern Europe’s communist states two years earlier was similarly scorned as the wishful thinking of anticommunists—until it happened. The post-Soviet “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan from 2003 to 2005, as well as the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, all burst forth unanticipated.
The Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.ENLARGE
The Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989. PHOTO: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC/GETTY IMAGES
China-watchers have been on high alert for telltale signs of regime decay and decline ever since the regime’s near-death experience in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Since then, several seasoned Sinologists have risked their professional reputations by asserting that the collapse of CCP rule was inevitable. Others were more cautious—myself included. But times change in China, and so must our analyses.
The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think. We don’t know what the pathway from now until the end will look like, of course. It will probably be highly unstable and unsettled. But until the system begins to unravel in some obvious way, those inside of it will play along—thus contributing to the facade of stability.
Communist rule in China is unlikely to end quietly. A single event is unlikely to trigger a peaceful implosion of the regime. Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr. Xi will be deposed in a power struggle or coup d’état. With his aggressive anticorruption campaign—a focus of this week’s National People’s Congress—he is overplaying a weak hand and deeply aggravating key party, state, military and commercial constituencies.
The Chinese have a proverb, waiying, neiruan—hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Mr. Xi is a genuinely tough ruler. He exudes conviction and personal confidence. But this hard personality belies a party and political system that is extremely fragile on the inside.
Consider five telling indications of the regime’s vulnerability and the party’s systemic weaknesses.
A military band conductor during the opening session of the National People’s Congress on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.ENLARGE
A military band conductor during the opening session of the National People’s Congress on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
First, China’s economic elites have one foot out the door, and they are ready to flee en masse if the system really begins to crumble. In 2014, Shanghai’s Hurun Research Institute, which studies China’s wealthy, found that 64% of the “high net worth individuals” whom it polled—393 millionaires and billionaires—were either emigrating or planning to do so. Rich Chinese are sending their children to study abroad in record numbers (in itself, an indictment of the quality of the Chinese higher-education system).
Just this week, the Journal reported, federal agents searched several Southern California locations that U.S. authorities allege are linked to “multimillion-dollar birth-tourism businesses that enabled thousands of Chinese women to travel here and return home with infants born as U.S. citizens.” Wealthy Chinese are also buying property abroad at record levels and prices, and they are parking their financial assets overseas, often in well-shielded tax havens and shell companies.
Meanwhile, Beijing is trying to extradite back to China a large number of alleged financial fugitives living abroad. When a country’s elites—many of them party members—flee in such large numbers, it is a telling sign of lack of confidence in the regime and the country’s future.
Second, since taking office in 2012, Mr. Xi has greatly intensified the political repression that has blanketed China since 2009. The targets include the press, social media, film, arts and literature, religious groups, the Internet, intellectuals, Tibetans and Uighurs, dissidents, lawyers, NGOs, university students and textbooks. The Central Committee sent a draconian order known as Document No. 9 down through the party hierarchy in 2013, ordering all units to ferret out any seeming endorsement of the West’s “universal values”—including constitutional democracy, civil society, a free press and neoliberal economics.
A more secure and confident government would not institute such a severe crackdown. It is a symptom of the party leadership’s deep anxiety and insecurity.
A protester is pushed to the ground by a paramilitary policeman March 5, 2014, in Beijing before the opening of the National People’s Congress nearby.ENLARGE
A protester is pushed to the ground by a paramilitary policeman March 5, 2014, in Beijing before the opening of the National People’s Congress nearby. PHOTO:ASSOCIATED PRESS
Third, even many regime loyalists are just going through the motions. It is hard to miss the theater of false pretense that has permeated the Chinese body politic for the past few years. Last summer, I was one of a handful of foreigners (and the only American) who attended a conference about the “China Dream,” Mr. Xi’s signature concept, at a party-affiliated think tank in Beijing. We sat through two days of mind-numbing, nonstop presentations by two dozen party scholars—but their faces were frozen, their body language was wooden, and their boredom was palpable. They feigned compliance with the party and their leader’s latest mantra. But it was evident that the propaganda had lost its power, and the emperor had no clothes.
In December, I was back in Beijing for a conference at the Central Party School, the party’s highest institution of doctrinal instruction, and once again, the country’s top officials and foreign policy experts recited their stock slogans verbatim. During lunch one day, I went to the campus bookstore—always an important stop so that I can update myself on what China’s leading cadres are being taught. Tomes on the store’s shelves ranged from Lenin’s “Selected Works” to Condoleezza Rice’s memoirs, and a table at the entrance was piled high with copies of a pamphlet by Mr. Xi on his campaign to promote the “mass line”—that is, the party’s connection to the masses. “How is this selling?” I asked the clerk. “Oh, it’s not,” she replied. “We give it away.” The size of the stack suggested it was hardly a hot item.
Fourth, the corruption that riddles the party-state and the military also pervades Chinese society as a whole. Mr. Xi’s anticorruption campaign is more sustained and severe than any previous one, but no campaign can eliminate the problem. It is stubbornly rooted in the single-party system, patron-client networks, an economy utterly lacking in transparency, a state-controlled media and the absence of the rule of law.
Moreover, Mr. Xi’s campaign is turning out to be at least as much a selective purge as an antigraft campaign. Many of its targets to date have been political clients and allies of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. Now 88, Mr. Jiang is still the godfather figure of Chinese politics. Going after Mr. Jiang’s patronage network while he is still alive is highly risky for Mr. Xi, particularly since Mr. Xi doesn’t seem to have brought along his own coterie of loyal clients to promote into positions of power. Another problem: Mr. Xi, a child of China’s first-generation revolutionary elites, is one of the party’s “princelings,” and his political ties largely extend to other princelings. This silver-spoon generation is widely reviled in Chinese society at large.
Mr. Xi at the Schloss Bellevue presidential residency during his visit to fellow export powerhouse Germany in Berlin on March 28, 2014.ENLARGE
Mr. Xi at the Schloss Bellevue presidential residency during his visit to fellow export powerhouse Germany in Berlin on March 28, 2014. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Finally, China’s economy—for all the Western views of it as an unstoppable juggernaut—is stuck in a series of systemic traps from which there is no easy exit. In November 2013, Mr. Xi presided over the party’s Third Plenum, which unveiled a huge package of proposed economic reforms, but so far, they are sputtering on the launchpad. Yes, consumer spending has been rising, red tape has been reduced, and some fiscal reforms have been introduced, but overall, Mr. Xi’s ambitious goals have been stillborn. The reform package challenges powerful, deeply entrenched interest groups—such as state-owned enterprises and local party cadres—and they are plainly blocking its implementation.
These five increasingly evident cracks in the regime’s control can be fixed only through political reform. Until and unless China relaxes its draconian political controls, it will never become an innovative society and a “knowledge economy”—a main goal of the Third Plenum reforms. The political system has become the primary impediment to China’s needed social and economic reforms. If Mr. Xi and party leaders don’t relax their grip, they may be summoning precisely the fate they hope to avoid.
In the decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the upper reaches of China’s leadership have been obsessed with the fall of its fellow communist giant. Hundreds of Chinese postmortem analyseshave dissected the causes of the Soviet disintegration.
Mr. Xi’s real “China Dream” has been to avoid the Soviet nightmare. Just a few months into his tenure, he gave a telling internal speech ruing the Soviet Union’s demise and bemoaning Mr. Gorbachev’s betrayals, arguing that Moscow had lacked a “real man” to stand up to its reformist last leader. Mr. Xi’s wave of repression today is meant to be the opposite of Mr. Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost. Instead of opening up, Mr. Xi is doubling down on controls over dissenters, the economy and even rivals within the party.
But reaction and repression aren’t Mr. Xi’s only option. His predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, drew very different lessons from the Soviet collapse. From 2000 to 2008, they instituted policies intended to open up the system with carefully limited political reforms.
They strengthened local party committees and experimented with voting for multicandidate party secretaries. They recruited more businesspeople and intellectuals into the party. They expanded party consultation with nonparty groups and made the Politburo’s proceedings more transparent. They improved feedback mechanisms within the party, implemented more meritocratic criteria for evaluation and promotion, and created a system of mandatory midcareer training for all 45 million state and party cadres. They enforced retirement requirements and rotated officials and military officers between job assignments every couple of years.
In effect, for a while Mr. Jiang and Mr. Hu sought to manage change, not to resist it. But Mr. Xi wants none of this. Since 2009 (when even the heretofore open-minded Mr. Hu changed course and started to clamp down), an increasingly anxious regime has rolled back every single one of these political reforms (with the exception of the cadre-training system). These reforms were masterminded by Mr. Jiang’s political acolyte and former vice president, Zeng Qinghong,who retired in 2008 and is now under suspicion in Mr. Xi’s anticorruption campaign—another symbol of Mr. Xi’s hostility to the measures that might ease the ills of a crumbling system.
Some experts think that Mr. Xi’s harsh tactics may actually presage a more open and reformist direction later in his term. I don’t buy it. This leader and regime see politics in zero-sum terms: Relaxing control, in their view, is a sure step toward the demise of the system and their own downfall. They also take the conspiratorial view that the U.S. is actively working to subvert Communist Party rule. None of this suggests that sweeping reforms are just around the corner.
We cannot predict when Chinese communism will collapse, but it is hard not to conclude that we are witnessing its final phase. The CCP is the world’s second-longest ruling regime (behind only North Korea), and no party can rule forever.
Looking ahead, China-watchers should keep their eyes on the regime’s instruments of control and on those assigned to use those instruments. Large numbers of citizens and party members alike are already voting with their feet and leaving the country or displaying their insincerity by pretending to comply with party dictates.
We should watch for the day when the regime’s propaganda agents and its internal security apparatus start becoming lax in enforcing the party’s writ—or when they begin to identify with dissidents, like the East German Stasi agent in the film “The Lives of Others” who came to sympathize with the targets of his spying. When human empathy starts to win out over ossified authority, the endgame of Chinese communism will really have begun.
Dr. Shambaugh is a professor of international affairs and the director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His books include “China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation” and, most recently, “China Goes Global: The Partial Power.”
Corrections & Amplifications: 
A photo shows a protester in Beijing being pushed to the ground by a Chinese paramilitary policeman before the opening of the National People’s Congress in March 2014. An earlier version of this article contained a photo caption that incorrectly said the incident was this month. (March 9, 2015)

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