China Seminar | 14 February 2019

The Great Disillusionment: The end of 25 years of global consensus that China would become a pillar of global order

Richard H. Hornik Richard H. Hornik

In 2018, even Old Friends of China like Henry Paulson have gone public with criticisms of the government. Former ambassadors to China have written distinctly undiplomatic critiques. Academics openly question the self-censorship they had previously accepted as the price of entry into the Middle Kingdom. The downside of mega-billion infrastructure loans from China has begun to dawn on developing countries, and the security risks of buying telecommunications equipment from companies like Huawei and ZTE have slowed their global expansion to a crawl. Even western business people, heretofore blinded to the growing challenges of doing business in China by its massive market, have begun to retreat. Was this disillusionment inevitable, or is it the product of Xi Jinping’s aggressive approach to domestic and foreign affairs? Is this a mere speed bump or a serious setback that will magnify the country’s already serious economic challenges? Richard Hornik, Director of Overseas Partnerships at Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy, is a journalist with over 30 years of global experience. He was executive editor of AsiaWeek, and served as Time’s bureau chief in Warsaw, Boston, Beijing and Hong Kong. He co-authored Massacre in Beijing: China’s Struggle for Democracy and has written for Foreign Affairs, Fortune, Smithsonian, The New York Times and Wall St. Journal. He has an M.A. in Russian studies from George Washington University and a B.A. in political science from Brown University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was Journalist-in-Residence at the EWC. He was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hong Kong in 2012 and at UHM in Spring 2015, when he was the inaugural Daniel K. Inouye Visiting Scholar.