Is the West complicit in the resurgence of authoritarianism?

Has the West enabled the global resurgence of authoritarianism? Catch up on our webinar on China’s rise in the context of world politics since 1989.

The last decade has seen a global resurgence of authoritarianism. Democracy is in retreat and civil society is increasingly under attack. The “end of history” and final triumph of liberal democracy, as optimistically proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama at the end of the Cold War, seems further away than ever. The profound rise of China is often evoked as one of the foremost threats to a Western-led world order. In the context of a growing US-China rivalry, Beijing is frequently called out on issues including human rights abuses, its tightening grip on Hong Kong, and revisionist behaviour in the South- and East China Seas, as well as across the Taiwan Strait. In short, China is identified as a multidimensional and systemic rival to the US-led global liberal order. What has led to these developments? Has the West missed an opportunity to turn the “end of history” into an “end of authoritarianism”?

Following the recent publication of Professor Holslag’s book, World Pollitics Since 1989LSE IDEAS China Foresight hosted a webinar to analyse the extent to which the West has enabled the rise and consolidation of authoritarian regimes such as China since the end of the Cold War.



This event was held on Tuesday 21 September 2021.

Meet the speakers

Jonathan Holslag is a Professor of International Politics at the Free University of Brussels, where he teaches diplomatic history and international politics. He guest lectures at various civilian and military academies across the world and has advised European institutions, NATO and national governments on international security. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including A Political History of the World, The Silk Road Trap and China's Coming War with Asia, which have been translated into many languages. He has appeared on CNN, the BBC, Bloomberg, CCTV and Al Jazeera, and written for publications such as the Le Monde, Financial Times and The Guardian.

Leslie Vinjamuri is Director of the US and the Americas programme and Dean of the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs at Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs. She is a Reader (Associate Professor) in International Relations at SOAS University of London.

Meet the chair

Chris Alden teaches International Relations at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and is Director of LSE IDEAS. He is a Research Associate with South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).

Event hashtag: #LSEChina

LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) is LSE's foreign policy think tank. Through sustained engagement with policymakers and opinion-formers, IDEAS provides a forum that informs policy debate and connects academic research with the practice of diplomacy and strategy.

The event image is "US President Barack Obama during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping" by U.S. Embassy The Hague. It is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.