Response to John Keane’s “Enter the Dragon” Image Credit: Wikimedia commons

Response to John Keane’s “Enter the Dragon”


In his dense yet sprawling essay “Enter the Dragon” (AFA11: The March of Autocracy), political scientist John Keane explores the features of what he dubs China’s “phantom democracy” and looks ahead to its implications for the country’s expanding “galaxy empire”.

Keane’s contention, first stated in his 2017 book When Trees Fall, Monkeys Scatter, is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintains its power in China not so much through the barrel of a gun as through its use of opinion polls, village elections and social media as a listening post to gauge what the citizenry wants. “In the PRC, state violence and repression are masked,” Keane writes. “Coercion is calibrated: cleverly camouflaged by elections, public forums, anticorruption agencies and other tools of government with a ‘democratic’ feel.”

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