Freedom House has a good piece by Sarah Cook, a Freedom House Senior Research Analyst for East Asia, on how things might go in China, based on what they are doing now.
The piece was written before Xi Jinping was anointed as leader for the next 10 years. But it does show the problems China has and will continue to have as its population gets younger and more world savvy.
The leadership in Beijing knows that the old ways of massive repression will not work. At the same time, however, they want to maintain control of the social and political process. (And tightly “guide” the economic sector.) They are torn between the old and the new.
[I]f a new generation of party leaders wished to move in a more tolerant direction, they would face great resistance from those who have gained status and wealth under the current system, and who fear repercussions if their abuses are exposed. But if the downward spiral of repression continues, it risks sparking further popular resentment and unrest, as Chinese citizens become more assertive of their rights.
Always facing the leadership are those pesky people in the countryside and in the cities with mobile phones. And, as Cook points out, the Chinese people are beginning to learn more about their rights — limited as they may be — under Chinese law.