China’s rise from impoverished backwater to prospective superpower has been accompanied by the repression of tens of millions of its own people, at the hands of a nationalist, developmentalist government. Under contemporary conditions of globalization, suppression of civil liberties, domination of ethnic minorities, and unholy alliances with resource-rich dictatorships are no longer plausible requisites of this model—if they ever were. The broadening and deepening of economic globalization towards a more sustainable complex of political influence involves “soft power,” including international reputation and norms. Thus, China’s Olympian reach for true hegemony provides the best chance for human rights advocates to weave a transnational “invisible handcuff” that will restrain the worst excesses of China’s rulers, and build a base for the long-term empowerment of China's civil society.

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