Still, some historical perspective is in order—not because Mr. Xi shows any signs of relenting in his oppressive agenda but because it would be a mistake to confuse the present reality with permanence. Democratic ideals have deep roots in modern Chinese history and have surfaced again and again over the past century. This legacy should serve to remind us that not all Chinese, even in the worst of times, have been resigned to a politics of one-party rule.
Seriously, "Historical perspective" about China and democracy requires us to ignore the vast history of China to just note the failed impulses for democracy that even over the last century of focused "perspective" are nearly non-existent?
And in that past century representing but a sliver of Chinese history, the only real democracy has been built away from mainland China in Taiwan--with a partial nod to Hong Kong that got it late from the British before being handed to the Chinese who do not take their so-called deep roots of democracy seriously enough to allow democracy in Hong Kong.
At best China had their own Han Spring that was crushed by the weight of Chinese tanks in 1989 at Tiananmen Square. Those first green sprigs of democracy never had a chance to put down any roots at all.
God save us from experts who sometimes seem to live in the echelon above reality.