Monday, November 28, 2005

Mass Action in China

Asia Times: Playing with protests
By Tanaka Sakai
The rising number of protests in China - 74,000 "mass actions" last year - is a sign of economic struggles rather than political strife. Unrest can very quickly become a political issue, though, so the central government is playing up the danger posed by the protests ahead of a crackdown on local official corruption. more...

Sakai makes the case that the Chinese government itself is providing these rising mass action statistics, something it hasn't done in the past, in order to generate political will ahead of an
imminent anti-corruption crackdown. This is very different from what we hear in the western media. The opposite actually. American journalists have written that the protests are a symptom of political instability and even an impeding party crisis. Sakai implies that the numbers might even be inflated by the party itself in order to provide a pretext for a crackdown.

Either way the question remains whether mass actions are the sign of health, a growing pain as the economy develops and allows greater openness, or a sign that the economic growth is increasingly unequal and at the expense of the society's most vunerable.

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Alex said...

It's funny how generations of Kremlin-watchers used to compulsively parse each edict coming out of Cold-War Moscow for layers of nuance and double-meaning, and yet the statements made today by China's Communist leaders are taken much more at face value. Victory in the Cold War and the recent spate of "color" revolutions seem to have made many in the U.S.'s leadership a little too...optimistic? Even as President Bush returned from his recent Asia trip utterly empty-handed.

moniqueluo said...

I would suggest that what you put here is partly justifiable by historical evidences. However, if the root of corruption resides deeply within the system itself, any tinkering like this just would not do

Joel Schectman said...

Progress always comes from tinkering