Over the weekend Howard French had a piece in the New York Times in which he argued that, despite appearances to the contrary, China is gradually opening up. Rights have expanded - albeit ever so slightly - government oppression has weakened, and, despite the fact that judges don't have the power to rule independently, the number of lawyers has increased. Pursuant to my previous post, it even appears that China has eased internet restrictions for foreign journalists in the run-up to the Olympics.
There is no denying that the China of today is not the China of yesterday. This holds for a variety of indicators. Yet, the foremost question as regards such extensions of liberty is to what extent they are truly genuine. Are Chinese citizens enjoying 'more' liberties because the CCP has finally decided to rectify its flawed ways, or is this but another instrumental move to further the government's agenda? Arguments exist on both sides of the equation.
On the topic of rights, I was saddened to hear that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn passed away this weekend. China could certainly use someone like him.