Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Revolution in China On Slow Burn

The ongoing invisible revolution against the Chinese CCP has become slightly more noticeable recently, thanks to the internet. A December 26, 2009 speech given by a top advisor to China's government is making the internet rounds, stirring up discussion of an incendiary kind.
His speech was delivered on December 26, the day after the rights activist Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail for helping to draft a manifesto for constitutional and democratic government in China, called Charter '08.

The sentence, which shocked liberal intellectuals and international observers, followed a tumultuous year during which the party tightened controls over almost all spheres of China's burgeoning civil society, including the internet, media, legal profession, non-government organisations and business.

Professor Yu's speech has not been previously reported but has recently emerged on Chinese websites.

He cited statistics showing the number of recorded incidents of "mass unrest" grew from 8709 in 1993 to more than 90,000 in each of the past three years.

"More and more evidence shows that the situation is getting more and more tense, more and more serious," Professor Yu said.

He cited a growing range and severity of urban worker disputes and said Mafia groups were increasingly involved in state-sponsored thuggery while disgruntled peasants were directing blame at provincial and even central government.

"For seeking 'bu zheteng' we sacrifice reform and people's rights endowed by law … Such stability will definitely bring great social disaster," he said.

Professor Yu's speech reflects deep disillusionment among liberal thinkers in China who had hoped Mr Hu and Mr Wen would implement political reforms.

Dr Feng said he still hoped the two would "do something" to leave more than a ''dark stain'' on China's political development before stepping down in 2012.

"The conservative forces are currently very strong," he said. China's security-tightening and potential for future loosening were linked to a leadership succession struggle between Mr Hu and the Vice-Premier, Li Keqiang, on the one hand, and the former president, Jiang Zemin, and the current Vice-President, Xi Jinping, on the other.

"I haven't given up the hope that the Hu-Li camp may make some positive political changes to mobilise public support."

The latest edition of the newspaper Southern Weekend broke a two-decade taboo by publishing a photo of a youthful Mr Hu with his early mentor, former party chief Hu Yaobang, who was purged in 1987 for his liberal and reformist leanings. But Chinese internet search results for the names of both leaders were yesterday blocked for "non-compliance with relevant laws". _InsiderRevolution
A movement away from central economic planning in the 1980s has led to a much wealthier China than would have been possible under a pure communist rule. But the reluctance of the CCP to loosen its iron grip on power is creating a number of invisible conflicts which will not go away on their own.

Most of the dissident activity in China occurs among intellectuals. But as communications technologies become more sophisticated and more difficult to block and control, dissident ideas will percolate among other groups. China is experiencing schism along several different lines, including urban : rural, coastal : inland, wealthy : poor, industrial : agricultural, politically connected : politically disenfranchised, etc.

As concentrations of wealth occur outside official governmental circles, corruption becomes more of a problem -- since the only way to get things done in a dictatorship is to bribe officials. The greater the corruption, the greater potential for outrageous injustice -- the type of injustice that can serve as a seed for outright defiance of authority.

Such incidents are occurring commonly outside the public eye, and most references to such incidents are harshly suppressed by any means necessary. But such suppression can serve to create yet more seeds of dissent and defiance.

The modern Chinese government seems unaware of how quickly public sentiment can turn against governments, although the abundant history of popular overthrow of governments is open to anyone who takes the trouble to look. China is likely to divide into multiple competing power centres as the central government's ability to hold things together is exhausted.

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