An op-ed piece in the NY Times is making this claim. While they definitely have some valid points, I think they're being too critical of the US and too lenient of the PRC.
China is an authoritarian state. But instead of being led by a dictator, they are being led by a politburo. The Chinese politburo is very effective when it comes to some things, such as being able to quickly respond to crises. In the US, the government is supposed to represent the interests of it's citizens. While this doesn't work out perfectly in reality, it is a vastly better system for the Average Joe.
In China, the government is set up to serve the interests of the politburo, with a faux-interest in serving the people. Almost every decision they make clearly benefits them, and when it doesn't, it at least doesn't harm them.
The Chinese politburo is ran by old men who were promoted to their stations in life by family connections. Every single decision they make is to keep themselves in power. Their ultimate fear is a popular rebellion. To appease the peasantry, they are saying they want to give the Chinese more power over their government. But this isn't really true. They want to appear to give the Average Wong more power, to satiate his rebellious impulses. Their ultimate fear is another Tiananmen Square incident that they can't control.