China’s “Comfort Class” | The Bling Dynasty, National Geographic Magazine: Superman Sells Cell phones | Guangzhou, China

This is outside of Total Fitness Club in the mall in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. There are 900 million cell phones in China and the West has long predicted that economic growth would eventually bring democracy. As James Mann points out in his new book, The China Fantasy, the idea that China will evolve into a democracy as its middle class grows continues to underlie the U.S.’s China policy, providing the central rationale for maintaining close ties with what is, after all, an unapologetically authoritarian regime. But China’s comfort class could shatter such long-held assumptions. As the chief beneficiaries of China’s economic success, young professionals are more and more tied up in preserving the status quo. The last thing they want is a populist politician winning over the country’s hundreds of millions of have-nots on a rural-reform, stick-it-to-the-cities agenda. All of which means democracy isn’t likely to come to China anytime soon.

Buy This Image