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Special Feature: 1989, a Watershed in Chinese History?

A Shadow over Western Democracies

China's Political Use of Economic Power
Wu Guoguang
p. 80-89


This paper investigates how China’s success in economic development negatively influences civil liberties and democracy as practiced in the West, and asks why the growing economic interdependence between China and the global economy enables China to intervene in the political conduct of leading democracies but not vice versa. Empirically, the paper examines cases of Chinese foreign relations behaviour in which China uses its economic connections with various leading industrial democracies to bend their international political behaviour regarding visits by the Dalai Lama. It also highlights how economic interests relating to the Chinese market make multinational corporations vulnerable to Beijing’s political pressure, and analyses why international capital is easily lured to cooperate with the Chinese repressive state to curb freedom in and outside China. It argues that the new political economy of globalisation in the post-Cold War era explains the rise of this kind of dictator’s diplomacy, and that post- Tiananmen China has greatly contributed to the shaping of a new political economy characterised by state-market collaboration in promoting material prosperity.

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Bibliographical reference

Wu Guoguang, « A Shadow over Western Democracies », China Perspectives, 2009/2 | 2009, 80-89.

Electronic reference

Wu Guoguang, « A Shadow over Western Democracies », China Perspectives [Online], 2009/2 | 2009, Online since 01 June 2011, connection on 20 July 2018. URL :

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About the author

Wu Guoguang

Chair in China and Asia-Pacific Relations at the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, University of Victoria, Canada.

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