Western democracies shouldn't stop asking China's leaders tough questions on human rights, but they also need to understand the huge task that lies before China and recognize the progress the nation has already made, writes Tony Blair. The number of Chinese below the World Bank poverty line has dropped 80% over the last 25 years, the former British prime minister writes in the Wall Street Journal. The country of 1.3 billion people is still undergoing an economic and political transformation on a scale that dwarfs anything else in history, he notes.
There's another Cultural Revolution under way in China along with the sweeping economic changes, Blair writes, and it's the opposite of the one that tore the country apart in the '60s. The Chinese are rediscovering their rich past and, in the process, reinventing their future and giving the rest of the world an opportunity to forge new ties. "How China changes will impact profoundly on how we change," Blair concludes. "If we treat China as our equal, China can be our economic, political, and cultural ally. That is an opportunity that is worth effort."