The position of the totalitarian rulers of China is much more difficult, and they are inclined to safeguard themselves not by constitutional evolution of their country, but by the conquest of the rest of the world, to convert its population into their serfs/slaves or annihilate it.
This is the essence of the Chinese Communist Party's plan. If it sounds familiar, it should, because it was also Leonid Brezhnev's plan in the 1970s; in fact, it was going quite well until the United States decided to challenge it.
For the CCP, things look better on the international front - as the U.S. has yet to assume its role from the 1980s. The International Olympic Committee is still insisting the Beijing Games were a wondrous success (Boycott 2008), leading Americans, including retired Admiral William Fallon, are spouting the "engagement" line (International Herald Tribune). Foreign reserves continue to rise (Bloomberg), although there's a lot less there than meets the eye. The cadres can rail about the peaceful resistance in Tibet (McClatchy via Yahoo) without serious repercussions (BBC). The Korean colony seems (for now) to be having some more influence on South Koreans again (BBC). although we should emphasize some (One Free Korea). There is even talk about expanding the shipyards to more international customers (Bloomberg).
Domestically, however, the rot is more obvious than in Brezhnev's time. The economy is in serious trouble (Agence France Presse via Yahoo, BBC, Bloomberg, Business Week, London Telegraph, Washington Post, and the Washington Times), and corruption has reached the highest of its "entrepreneurs" (BBC and Epoch Times). Given the oncoming economic downturn, these could do far more damage than in the Brezhnev era.
For starters, economic development and radical nationalism were all the cadres had once Deng Xiaoping decided to steer clear of the Brezhnev path. While the former lost much of its luster after the Tiananmen massacre, a white-hot economy still enabled the cadres to keep the elite happy - especially local cadres in the rural interior for whom ill-gotten gains were simply a regular benefit of the job.
This enabled the regime to continue to get away with brutality toward its own people (BBC, Boycott 2008, Epoch Times, and the Washington Post). Now, with even Hong Kong coming under economic strain, the de facto buying off the elite could run aground (Washington Post). The truth about the anti-Chinese nature of the CCP (Epoch Times) will only make things worse (for the cadres).
Finally, even if the United States were to avoid becoming the anti-Communist leader Beijing fears, there's no guarantee India won't - especially if there's even a tenuous link between the terrorists who attacked Mumbai this weekend and the Communists' longtime ally Pakistan.
Thus, like the Soviets before them, the Chinese Communists are forced to subdue the rest of the world to prevent being subdued at home. The democratic world must not forget this. One day China will be free. The question is, how much blood and treasure will be spilled in the interim?