For decades, various Chinese officials and outsiders have reassured the world that the country’s Communist Party leadership eventually planned to open up its one-party political system. The regime would undertake major political reforms and liberalization, it was said, to accompany the economic reforms launched by Deng Xiaoping in the late ’70s. It was merely a question of choosing the right time. Writing in Foreign Affairs two years ago, John L.
Richard Holbrooke knows about foreign policy feuds. In the late '70s, he was assistant secretary of state for Asia in the Carter administration—a young bull in the China shop. One morning, he answered his phone at 6:30 and received a tooth-rattling attack from National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was bent on cutting Cyrus Vance's entire (as Brzezinski saw it, leak-prone) State Department out of his forthcoming trip to Beijing.