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Sun Tzu, Hu Jintao & George Bush

On the heels of Chinese President Hu Jintao's meeting with President Bush today, WSJ's Opinion Journal offers a timely OpEd: The Long China View: How to manage an emerging power without a crisis.

The larger strategic bet here is that sooner or later China's economic progress will create the internal conditions for a more democratic regime that will be more stable and less of a potential global rival. This may take many more years, but the seeds of political change are already evident. Rural protests numbered more than 87,000 last year, journalists are staging walkouts to protest censorship and more ordinary Chinese citizens are demanding that the Communist Party uphold their legal rights and respect their right to worship.

Mr. Bush can help that process by prodding Mr. Hu to improve China's disgraceful human rights record. But the changes aren't taking place because the U.S. demands it. China's burgeoning middle class, created and buoyed by economic growth, will drive internal change.

That's why Congressional threats to impose tariffs or brand China a "currency manipulator" are so dangerous. They damage American business interests, and they could also endanger the prosperity that will drive China's political change. For their part, China's leaders believe they can maintain one-party political control even amid all of this dynamic economic growth. History, as Sun Tzu might argue, would suggest they are wrong.