The key question in The Struggle for Democracy in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong: Sharp Power and its Discontents
(Routledge, 2020), is to what extent political activists in these three domiciles have made progress in their quest to liberalize and democratize their respective polities.
Taking a long historical perspective, the book compares the political trajectory in the three regions from the 1970s until the present. Key political events are analyzed for their strategies, tactics, success and lessons learned. An assessment is made as to how these significant political events have informed the key actor’s struggles for democracy, and also the wider democracy trajectory.
Crucially, by drawing on key events, Andreas Fulda
demonstrates how the Chinese Communist Party uses “sharp power” to penetrate the political and information environments in Western democracies, and manipulate debate and suppress dissenters living both inside and outside China – with the intent of strengthening its own political position.
The book explores the effectiveness and consequences of this sharp power, and the rise of the security state within mainland China. The book makes an argument that this policy has been counterproductive in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where sharp power practices have stimulated the growth of civil society, campaigns for democracy and the flourishing of religion.
Fulda’s book makes an essential and timely contribution. It is wonderfully written and absorbing; a must read for anyone seeking to understand political events in the region, and China’s rise to prominence in the world.
Follow Andreas Fulda on twitter @AMFChina
Jane Richards is a doctoral candidate in Human Rights Law at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include disability, equality and criminal law. You can find her on twitter @JaneRichardsHK where she avidly follows the Hong Kong protests.