A study ordered by the Defense Dept. on China's future after Deng Xiaoping concludes that the most likely scenario is a breakup of the Middle Kingdom within seven years of Deng's death. The consensus of the panel of outside experts who wrote the report, China in the Near Term, was that there was a 50% chance of a "Soviet-style breakup."
Surprisingly, the study panel's chairman, Ronald A. Morse, director of international programs at the University of Maryland, argues that such an outcome could be preferable to the status quo. Disintegration into a loose federation of economically driven regions would lessen China's military threat to its neighbors and reduce its obsession with sovereignty, he thinks.