Seen from a distance, the Arab revolts of 2011 all seem connected and broadly similar. Yet Stephens notes that on closer inspection, the convulsing states of the Arab world are each undergoing distinct revolutions. Events in Bahrain in the last two weeks have sent a tiny but telling shot across China’s gigantic bow. Even though it has a per capita GDP of $27,000, women can vote, and the country is an excellent place to invest, Bahrainis lack real political freedom. As such, conditions are ripe for a bourgeois revolt. Beijing has been censoring news about the Arab revolt and putting down small but widespread protests that draw inspiration from it. But Bahrain proves–to Beijing’s horror–that economic growth will not save it. Until they grant their people democracy, their quest for discipline will only hasten their demise.
Stephens writes ‘Global View’ for the Journal.
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