I am not so sure about that. There are a couple of things that I want to note here. The people in China say what the CCP wants them to say. It is not a free state, so there is no way of knowing how content they are with the status quo. Besides, you're talking about improvement to their lives, but even there we don't know. CCP for example claims that there is no poverty in China, how? They lowered the poverty level to 4 dollars a week. There is huge corruption there, public humiliations, punishments for things that go against party lines like watching porn, bad food hygiene, big child kidnapping numbers, violence against foreigners, horrible working conditions, bad healthcare and reliance on bogus Chinese medicine. The list goes on and on of the problems in that country. And if you ask me what a good example is, I'd say go look at Taiwan. Another Chinese country (in practice) that doesn't have those issues.
I agree that current day China has many problems. Yet I don't think sanction, military pressure or exclusion from trade agreements is helping.
To put another point of view at it: I met multiple chinese students that were studying in the west while I was at the university. They were at times critical of their government, because outside of China they had not to fear repressions. But also because exposure to western style of life and western media changed their point of view. A point of view they took back to China. I bet, that student exchange does a lot more to change societies than sanctions do. It takes time, yes. But it works much better.