Chinas new ruler, Jiang Zemin, may finally be placing that nation on the road of no return toward political liberalization and freedom. A Sept. 22 story in Time magazine detailed Zemins plans to radically alter the political and economic landscape of the worlds largest Communist nation.
Over the next few years, China will sell off all but a thousand or so of 125,000 state-owned industries. Zemin has recently also allowed a greater degree of press freedom than under his predecessor, Deng Xiaoping.
China, beset first by Mao Zedongs program of accelerating Chinese population growth and then the draconian one child policy, may find it hard to pull back from freedom once economic power is decentralized. Although the Chinese have shown themselves more masterful at alternating reforms with repression than the leaders of the Soviet Union were, such a fundamental change may spell the death of one of the worlds most tyrannical states.
With increasing political and economic freedom, China will be far better equipped to deal with its environmental and population issues.