It has been a bad couple of weeks for what Vitali Silitski, a political scientist, calls the Authoritarian International.
Mr. Silitski is from Belarus — a good background for studying authoritarian rulers — and he is a student of the troubling way in which the world’s autocrats responded to the “color” revolutions in some former Soviet republics a few years ago by increasing repression at home and forming a loose international support group.
China is the star of this Authoritarian International, with its robust growth guided by a government that quashed the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests but now wins plaudits even from many Western business leaders who concede that it is often better at getting things done than querulous democracies.
But just as the Authoritarian International drew strength from the Chinese model and the so-called “Beijing Consensus” it inspired, the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have been unsettling for the world’s unelected rulers.
“When you see somebody like Chávez in Venezuela reaching out to somebody like Ahmadinejad it is clear these authoritarian regimes are forming an alliance that helps them to maintain their control,” Aryeh Neier, the president of the Open Society foundations, said, referring to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. “If I were Hu Jintao,” he said of the Chinese president, “I would be nervous at this moment.”