I look forward to the day when Ethan Gutmann's Losing The New China is irrelevant. I'm sure he does, too, because that would mean the Chinese Communist Party had at last been swept from power, no longer able to confuse and confound the free world. Sadly, the CCP is still here, and far too many democratic leaders still fall for the facade of power and modernity that the CCP projects. Gutmann explains in great detail how the cadres accomplish this - particularly with the business community - in his book. However, I also remember one other theme running through Gutmann's work, a warning about how the Chinese people will react when they take their country back - and see just how much a bedazzled West had become the CCP's enablers.
Unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence that the bedazzling is still quite effective, in both Washington (Bloomberg and Christian Science Monitor via Yahoo) and Taiwan (Washington Post). Most of the democratic world is still treating the CCP as a stable government and responsible actor on the world stage, even as evidence to the contrary continues to grow.
While the CCP is still in place, these erroneous assumptions can be damaging. They give the regime a respectability it does not deserve (Washington Times), and help the regime avoid responsibility for its actions, such as the melamine scandal (Epoch Times), and those of its satellites, such as in northern Korea (BBC and One Free Korea). The CCP can use this unearned goodwill to survive and thrive - at the expense of the free world. Given the regime's support of terrorists and anti-Americans of nearly every stripe, the danger in this should be self-evident.
However, the damage will continue even after the CCP is gone, as an angry Chinese people will undoubtedly ask very hard questions about our behavior - exactly what Gutmann predicted.
The regime continues to brutalize its own people (BBC, Bloomberg, Epoch Times, Los Angeles Times), but even the Chinese people would understand the need to deal with a regime that was well entrenched in power (so long as we did what we could to undermine said entrenchment - which we're not). Yet it should be very obvious that the Chinese Communist Party's position is far less sustainable than it appeared even last year, due to the economic slowdown (BBC and Bloomberg). At least one economist thinks the Chinese economic growth is actually below the 8% needed to keep up with population (Herald Sun - Australia).
The Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites underwent similar turmoil in the 1970s; the West was simply unwilling to take advantage of the situation and work with the peoples of Eastern Europe against the regime. The West's position changed in the 1980s, and thus when European Communism collapsed, it was years earlier than it would have been (saving possibly thousands to hundreds of thousands of lives in the process) and ensuring goodwill between NATO and Eastern Europe that - outside of Russia itself - continues to this day.
The Chinese Communist Party is suffering similar internal decay and unrest (Epoch Times and Bloomberg), and unlike the Soviets in the 1970s, the CCP has to compete with more nimble dissidents and whistleblowers. Yet the democratic world continues to operate under Detente II. Unless this changes, not only with the CCP last that much longer (and do that much more damage), but even relations with China after the CCP falls will be hampered by mistrust and anger, which would be deserved.
It is also needless. It is time for the democratic world to heed Gutmann's warning and remember its history. It is time to begin helping the Chinese people take their country back.