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For decades, liberal democracies deluded themselves that the modernization of China would also determine its democratization. It was dreamed that economic liberalization in the world's most populous country would automatically lead to political freedom for its citizens. We convinced ourselves that the diplomatic commitment of the West and Beijing's integration into the international economy, with its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), would have mitigated the authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party. China, on the other hand, deliberately took advantage of this opening, without accepting the values that supported it. At the time, it seemed like the right decision, but now it has become a strategic mistake. Beijing is connected to global trade and financial systems in ways that create risks that will be exceptionally difficult to untangle. Serious mistakes have been made, also fueled by an omission to evaluate the conduct and intentions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and by a short-sighted mercantilism that has chosen to put its own interests before the general ones of state security. The goal of minimizing friction between international economies is the basis of many rules and institutions after the Second World War. Such democratic governance is now under constant threat from China, Russia, Iran and other countries, all united by an anti-Western and revanchist sentiment. Extricating yourself from economic ties is less difficult when dealing with Russia because its economy is in decline. But with China it is different. It is rich, industrialized, controls the most important global supply chains and creates dependencies. Furthermore, it is strongly technology-oriented, with President Xi Jinping pursuing global leadership in the sector.

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