Chinese President Xi Jinping’s repressive regime will trigger a backlash and eventually become a thing of the past, China expert Jerome Cohen says.
Under Xi’s rule, dictatorship in China was at its highest in 60 years, Cohen said. “Xi’s crackdown will spark a backlash … He is planting the seeds of opposition. I might not see that day, but you will,” he told Voice of America in an interview.
Cohen, a retired professor of the New York University School of Law, is considered to be a leading expert on China’s law and government, and is also an outspoken critic of the country’s human rights abuses.
He said that the Chinese leader’s dictatorial rule would not last indefinitely, and would “become a thing of the past like Mao’s Cultural Revolution and anti-rightist movement.”
In 1968, Cohen was among U.S. scholars of Chinese affairs who advised Richard Nixon to reestablish ties with China. The effort culminated in the American president’s ice-breaking visit to the country in 1972.
Normalizing the bilateral ties was in the interest of both the American and Chinese peoples, Cohen said.
The China-U.S. relationship might not have developed in the way he expected, Cohen said, but he believed he did the right thing in the Nixon era. “China’s development at the time was like a pendulum; every few years it alternates between radicalism and conservatism,” he added.
He had not expected China’s reforms to lead to Xi’s iron-fisted regime, but he was still optimistic about the country. Notwithstanding the uncertainties, Cohen hopes that Xi will have a moderate successor.
“[The successor] might introduce a more human element in governance, adopt more humane technologies, and allow the Chinese people to build more connections with the world.”
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