The price of Deng's pragmatism

ARGUABLY, Deng Xiaoping's role in liberalizing the Chinese economy makes him the world's most significant political leader of the second half of the 20th century. But his failure is on almost as grand a scale as his successes....

A price has had to be paid for Deng's pragmatism.... The price includes a party without its ideological raison d'etre; a society without the rule of law; and a political system without checks and balances....

The probability ... is that [his] policies will not be reversed.... But the problem is as likely to be a different one: the arrival on the world stage of a giant economic power that is also an arbitrary, often a xenophobic, despotism. Grim for the Chinese, this would be fearful for everyone else. Deng has clearly failed to rise to the challenge of political reform. For China's sake, as well as that of the rest of the world, his successors must not fail, too.

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