Chinese Communists 'Riding a Tiger'

By Lawrence Morahan | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

( - Behind the public displays of economic pride and military might that have marked the 50th anniversary of communism in China, the Beijing leadership is "riding a tiger" as it tries to open up Chinese society and keep control of it at the same time, a leading China analyst told

"They have decided to open the society in certain respects for the purpose of making the society more competitive and powerful. But that opening creates dangers for them," Dr. Larry Arnn, president of the California-based Claremont Institute told

"The fact that they're in a dangerous position means we're in some danger from them, too. We shouldn't take it for granted either that they will fail or that they will be successful," he said.

Fifty years of communism has extracted a terrible toll in terms of human lives - estimates run as high as 60 million killed during the rule of Mao Zedong alone - and China is showing no signs it is prepared to repudiate the principles that made such disasters possible, Arnn said.

"The future depends on China making an utter repudiation of the principles of the communist revolution, which it refuses to do. What's amazing is not that communism lives well, but that it lives at all," Arnn said.

The debate on whether economic freedom should precede political freedom or vice versa is beside the point, Arnn said.

"It turns out that economic and political freedoms are one. If you have a right to keep what you earn, this should entitle you to consent to the government over you. Horses and mules labor, but they don't have a right to a share of the crops they produce," he said.

Human rights organizations have the used the celebration to focus attention on Beijing for denying its citizens basic human rights.

"The Chinese leadership must decide whether China in the next 50 years will be ruled by law and justice and respect its citizens' human rights, or remain known as a country where serious human rights violations occur on a daily basis and state officials routinely ignore the law," Amnesty International said in a release made available to on the occasion of the communists' 50th anniversary.

The human rights organization said "In the name of 'stability,' they have detained a broad range of people who dared to exercise peacefully their rights to freedom of expression or association and sentenced some to long prison terms for 'subversion' under sweeping 'national security' provisions introduced in 1997."

"In just a few months, the authorities have turned the clock backwards and created a new generation of prisoners of conscience," Amnesty said.

The way for the United States to deal with China is first to ensure its own security and that of its allies, Arnn said.

"Everything else pales into insignificance besides that. Also important is we should be engaging in relations with China that aim to strengthen the forces of freedom there and in the region. Right now we tend to strengthen the forces of oppression. We ought to have friendship with people in China who are friendly with the U.S., and we ought to make freedom in China an issue in all of our dealings with them," Arnn said.