Sixteen years ago, as groups of students led pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Chinese Communist Party official Zhao Ziyang attempted to negotiate a peaceful solution with the protest leaders. According to recent reports, Zhao realized that moves towards capitalism in the PRC would necessarily require political reforms as well, and that a gradual adoption of democratic systems would avoid the potential problems of sudden political collapse.
Unfortunately, hardliners, reputedly led by Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), decided instead to end the protests through a brutal and deadly crackdown. They then proceeded to purge Mr. Zhao from the CCP, and placed him under house arrest, where he remained in seclusion until his death earlier this year.
One can only wonder how much progress could have been made in China if Mr. Zhao had succeeded in his plan. While capitalism has made great strides in China, the PRC government has changed little since then.
(The above quote was attributed to Mr. Zhao by his friend Zong Fengming (宗鳳鳴) according to press reports. According to these reports, Mr. Zong has written a manuscript on Mr. Zhao's philosophy, but is being prevented from publishing it.)