Skip to comments.China's Weakness
Posted on 08/02/2005 8:15:21 AM PDT by Parmenio
Chinas rulers face an ongoing crisis of legitimacy. There is abundant evidence that very substantial discontent exists among its population. We must never forget that Chinas leadership is frightened not just of losing power, but of the disintegration of China itself. There is ample historical precedent in a culture which reveres its history. Within the last century local warlords ruled various regions which had broken away from the central government.
While overall wealth has risen substantially over the last 3 decades of capitalism rising, there has been on balance a substantial majority of the people left behind, resentful, cynical, threatened, and envious of the few hundred million winners in the big rich coastal cities and favored classes. Random sparks thus ignite violent spontaneous protests. It is a pre-revolutionary environment.
Mao Tse-tung replaced the venerable imperial system with Communism, but after decades of indoctrination, Communist ideology has been discarded, with nothing else replacing it. There is only the logic of power sustaining the regime now. Corruption has re-appeared big time, and officials collude with newly-wealthy businessmen. Together, the concentrated wealth they enjoy finances a lifestyle unavailable to the masses. Upscale motorcars, lavish banquets, travel, fine clothing, and other lifestyle markers now distinguish them from the majority of their countrymen.
Chinas Communist indoctrination period provides plenty of memes with which to condemn an elite class. Teach a nation that a corrupt exploitative ruling class deserves to be overthrown at your own risk, comrades. Chinas rulers have reason to worry about their lack of popularity.
They are frightened to death of Falun Gong, a religious exercise cult which they ruthlessly repress. Any national organization outside the control of the regime is anathema to them, since it could provide the basis for a revolutionary movement.
But sporadic local rebellions continue to break out all over China. Sometimes it is about local corruption. Sometimes pollution or safety issues trigger riots. An event covered by Edward Cody today in the Washington Post was sparked by a minor traffic accident and escalated into an 8 hour riot in which 3 police cars were burned.
The incident was a confrontation between a young man (Liu) riding a bicycle in a small city and a wealthy entrepreneur (Wu) from a neighboring province, 250 miles southwest of Shanghai. The locals speak bitterly of the arrogant attitude they attribute to the wealthy entrepreneur, whose bodyguards beat up a local boy once he got physical in an argument with their boss. Events rapidly escalated, driven by class issues, resentment of corrupt officials, and resentment of an outsider from the neighboring province. Eventually, 10,000 people (8% of the citys population) took to the streets and some of them became violent. The local authorities were out of control for 8 hours or more.
"Why are you letting them go?" people shouted, according to accounts from several witnesses. A motorcycle driver who was in the crowd was still outraged about the lack of handcuffs a week later. "That's illegal," he shouted in a long conversation during which he described the scene. "Why didn't the police handcuff them?" he asked. "They were so rich, so they weren't afraid of anything."
Wu, meanwhile, was seen looking at the crowd from a second-floor window above the police station, smiling dismissively. "When I saw him smirk at the crowd, I was really mad," said the driver, a sinewy man wearing only shorts and a tank-style undershirt .
Four were seriously injured and the rest swiftly drew back, authorities said. The injured, officials said, were hospitalized for more than a week. "They were afraid of dying," said one member of the crowd who, like others interviewed, refused to reveal his name for fear of being arrested.
By 5 p.m., the emboldened mob turned its attention to Wu's sedan, overturning it, pummeling it with rocks and then setting it afire with cigarette lighters, the witnesses said. Two police cars suffered the same fate an hour later, they added, and the police van was also trashed and set ablaze. The fires were so hot they scorched the entrance to the police station, Cao said.
The crowd cheered and shouted at the sight of government vehicles burning. Several of the people there that evening said that the riot had become a battle against a system that encouraged local police to protect rich outsiders instead of sticking up for a local boy. A number of those present, interviewed at length, referred to the crowd as "the common people," a term frequently used in China to distinguish ordinary civilians from the rich or the powerful.
"They are rich people, and they always bully us poor people," said one of the legions of men who ferry customers around Chizhou on the back of motorcycles and who played a prominent role in the violence.
Cell phones were the vehicle by which the crowd rapidly assembled. This is ominous for the regime, because it means very large outbreaks can occur quickly in big cities, and even across a region. They are undoubtedly planning to disable cell phone networks in the event of large scale outbreaks.
Out of desperation, Chinas rulers are pushing a self-defeating and dangerous policy of resentful nationalism, directed mostly at Japan and the United States, as a unifying force. But when the inevitable result is to diminish Chinas trade and investment flows, the flow of economic benefits currently providing at least some justification for the regimes continued control will diminish. And the regime risks being driven to extreme positions, eventually isolating itself. Gone would be the benefits to themselves of integration into the world economy.
Chinas leaders, in other words, are in a difficult position. Their recent small revaluation of the yuan, something the US has long wanted, may have been as much to increase the buying power of its population as to pacify the Yankee Barbarians. Our policies should continue to aim at pressuring the leadership to concede more power and more benefits to their own people, thereby gradually democratizing. Economic liberalization will inevitably diminish their power even while enriching them in the short and medium term.
We can afford to be firm on the long term objectives. It is the Chinese leadership which occupies the low ground.
Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.
We need to send them more jobs.
Hello... remember the Great Russian Experiment? Capitalism is barely holding on, crime has exploded, and the leader of Russia is a former communist hard-liner. The Communist bosses took hundreds of billions of dollars from the US... for what?
Bottom line is that the people with the guns make the rules in China... and they're a bunch of borderline psychotics with a whole bunch of guns. There isn't going to be any kind of peasant revolution.
"Chinas rulers face an ongoing crisis of legitimacy. There is abundant evidence that very substantial discontent exists among its population. We must never forget that Chinas leadership is frightened not just of losing power, but of the disintegration of China itself. There is ample historical precedent in a culture which reveres its history."
I stopped reading after this paragraph.
The author may have some understanding of Chinese history, but he has no understanding of Chinese culture, society or politics.
Yes, it is true that Chinese party members are frightened of losing power, but the majority of the discontent lies in land ownership. They don't give a damn about democracy or all the other things that we westerners make such a big deal about. In fact, this may shock you, but most of the countryside peasants that I talk to sincerely miss what they call the "good old days" under Mao. There was no rich or poor because everyone was equal and everything was distributed evenly (so-to-speak).
The Chinese value their history only because it is so long..they're not trying to relive it. If anything, they hope to move on and leave it behind as something they can refer to only when talking to someone who comes from a country that is only 200 some years old.
Believe me, the rural unrest has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with land ownership.
REF FOR AFTER VACATION.
Like the Panama canal? Or how about supplying 90% of the goods at Walmart and Costco?
"The Chinese value their history only because it is so long..they're not trying to relive it. If anything, they hope to move on and leave it behind as something they can refer to only when talking to someone who comes from a country that is only 200 some years old.
Believe me, the rural unrest has nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with land ownership"
I see you finally got it :) Congrats.
1989's protest has nothing to do with Democracy -- it's more to do with economic. Out of all the stuff the students wanted, ALL are available in China today except for democracy.
What China needs is RULE of law and the problem is that the Communist has taken away basic morality studies (Such as traditional Confucius) from the populus. I don't see how they can solve the rule of law problem without basic education on the youngin's.
They are rich in money and we have been helping them. It's time we treated them as Reagan did the Soviet Union and, as painful for us as it would be, pulled the market and support out from under them.
IMHO, it will be much, much more painful at a later date for us if we do not.
Quote: 1989's protest has nothing to do with Democracy -- it's more to do with economic. Out of all the stuff the students wanted, ALL are available in China today except for democracy.
Your full of crap!! Then what was the recreation of the Statue of Liberty for??
Your are a chinese communist apologist and your thread history proves it.
Did you read my post??? I said, out of everything the students wanted, only ONE item was democracy (there were list of like 10 things, 9 things are available today).
Why don't you read Jimmy Rogers' book first before calling peopel names? Even he agrees. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/140006337X/qid=1123007716/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-2566841-8391049
In 1989, the students couldn't even CHOOSE a career path, they are told what their job is going to be. Also, there was a huge inflationary problem and credit problem (tight monetary policy).
You can't have democracy without first, economic freedom, and, RULE OF LAW. A democracy without rule of law = anarchy.
"It collapsed in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union due to it failing abjectly economically, he;ped along in large measure by Reagan and Thatcher IMHO. Red China has not suffered from either of those issues to date."
Actually the collapse of teh Soviet Union is because they're ideologues -- they followed the Marxist path to death AND they joined in the arms race with the US by building more nukes and crippling their already feeble economy. Had they ignore the arms race and move toward a market economy, the result would have been very different.
Deng realized this in 1981, that the communist economy simply won't work. If he hadn't reformed the economy, the 1989 protest would have turned into a revolution similar to Eastern Europe, though the results will not be democracy but other form of dictatorship. China is still, in my opinion, not yet ready for democracy. It needs rule of law first.
"The Communist bosses took hundreds of billions of dollars from the US... for what? "
Just the usual transfer of wealth from the American taxpayer to the rest of the world. I'm sure some of it came back here in the way of campaign donations and bribes.
They are using their wealth to accellerate their arms development strategically, airforce wise, army, and particularly with their navy. My point is that we are a major part of that funding and that without significant reform towards a more free society, we should not help fund such a potentially dangerous adversary...and that is exactly what we are doing.
We need another Reagan to come along and challenge the ChiComms by making it clear that we will no longer play that game.
The Bush administration is finally begninng to make more and more moves that indicate they may be moving in that direction.
Just my opinion.
"It's time we treated them as Reagan did the Soviet Union and, as painful for us as it would be, pulled the market and support out from under them."
I agree, but as you've noted, that's easier said than done. However, it looks like Japan has begun doing just that in response to the wave of anti-Japanese sentiment that has stormed through the country lately.
That will be a heavy price to pay for China.
Where did you get that? I don't see them pulling out at all -- if they did, China will respond by not importing stuff from Japan and given that China is Japan's BIGGEST export market and Japanese economy is based solely on exports, it'd hurt them greatly.
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