Michael Ledeen: The Chinese will fail by giving economic freedom and withholding political freedom
That’s one strand of useful analysis. The other has to do with freedom and creativity and entrepreneurship. Tyrannies, especially totalitarian ones, stifle creativity. Modern tyrants, the smart ones anyway, figured this out. There are various “solutions”: steal from the creative peoples (USSR did this pretty well, Chinese seem to be emulating), buy creative people wherever they may be, create little zones of freedom within the tyranny, etc.
But freedom doesn’t “fit” in little zones, and doesn’t work well if applied halfheartedly, as tyrants must, less they become threatened. Gorbachev tried to yield some political freedom while keeping economic stranglehold, and it failed. Chinese now trying the reverse, giving economic freedom but keeping political control, and it will also fail. The only way to successfully “control” freedom is via deeply embedded values, including religion.
I have discussed this at some length with a handful of friendly tyrants and they certainly get it. Now and then one or another of them actually took a chance and got out of the way…but that is very rare.