Sunday, May 27, 2012

China's Great Divide

China's economy is stumbling currently, and China's leaders and people are divided as to how best to proceed for the benefit of the Chinese nation and people at large.

On the one hand, you have the modernists who are doing everything they can to perpetuate China's recent history of rapid growth. Such modernists include the leaders in China's CCP responsible for trade and economic growth.

On the other side, you have the neo-Maoists -- throwbacks to the age of Mao, perpetual poverty, and mass starvation. This group is represented in the politburo by leaders of China's security and military forces. Their champion was Bo Xilai, the fallen former boss of Chongqing -- the man who aspired to take over total leadership of China.

The hyper-centralist leftists among China's population who backed Bo and his cohorts within top CCP leadership, tend to frequent bookshops and websites such as Utopia. This group is currently somewhat downhearted, but at the same time they are totally unrepentant and unreflective -- completely lacking insight.

More than 35 years since his death, the man who led the communist takeover of China is still a hero at Utopia, a bookshop in north-west Beijing.

Until recently, the dedicated band of leftists who ran Utopia and its website from hard-to-find sixth floor premises had a modern-day figure to look up to, someone they hoped would bring about a return to the policies of the Mao era and halt the country's economic reforms.

"China is now very much a polarised society, where the rich people take one end and the poor and powerless take the other.

"These people, they've kidnapped the country politically and economically. They hold these monopolies over China's political power ... They control the public opinion by state ownership and the public broadcasters and print media.

"It takes poor people to fight against these people and push for change. They can't wait and expect the change to fall from the sky."

While Mr Fan can fairly be described as belonging to the political fringe in China, Utopia is often cited as one of the most prominent of a series of leftist websites. _Utopia Dashed

It is instructive to see utopian leftists extolling the virtue of corrupt thugs such as Bo Xilai, as if Bo were some type of selfless saviour to the masses. The Utopia website was said to receive a half million visitors a day, which is not so many in terms of the total Chinese population. But in terms of China's intelligentsia, such fringe websites may be able to claim a significant following. Time will tell.

It is clear that for all of its supposed homogeneity, China is a land divided among itself, with much potential for dissent and conflict. From the Falun Gong to the neo-Maoists to the pro-west liberals to the corrupt status quo (perhaps the largest single group), the middle kingdom would seem to be a land in the middle of disruptive and potentially dangerous change, regardless of the direction it eventually goes.

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