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Is China Unstable Foreign Policy Research Institute Wire July 1999 By Minxin Pei Western attitudes toward China tend to oscillate between two extremes often with confusing rapidity Not too long ago China was widely portrayed as an emerging military and economic threat to the West Its total economic output was projected to surpass that of the United States in two decades Its military modernization was expected to provide China the capability to project its power far beyond its borders and the recent Cox report on nuclear espionage has revived those concerns And its authoritarian regime was supposed to be able to retain its grip on power for a long time Nowadays however the speculation about Chinas future has generally inclined toward pessimism The influential British magazine The Economist openly speculated about the break-up of China in its last issue of 1998 Not long before that the same publication ran a cover editorial opining about the imminent collapse of the Chinese economy And in a speech delivered in April of this year President Bill Clinton warned of the dangers of an unstable China which failed to reform Even within China signs of danger and nervousness abound Arguably the Chinese government now faces the most severe challenge since the Tiananmen Square demonstrations
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