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Thread: China's internal troubles (not the Far West)

  1. #21
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Under the spotlight

    The BBC report, with links to three related reports, is from a Beijing-based correspondent:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16173768

    It is noteworthy that this incident is in Guangdong Province, the richest, most populous province and a quarter of it's exports. For a glimpse check:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangdong

    Nearby are Hong Kong and Macau, which remain significant entry points and places to watch events from.

    With the exception of say a city like Shanghai and the national capital Beijing, this incident couldn't happen in a worse place IMHO.
    davidbfpo

  2. #22
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default From inside the revolt

    A BBC reporter has gained access to the town, his short report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16195113
    davidbfpo

  3. #23
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    Villagers say five people have been snatched from Wukan by police in recent days, prompting local people to mount nightly patrols to defend the village, he adds.
    The villagers should grab some cops or government officials as counterhostages.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  4. #24
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 'As villagers get smarter, they become harder to manage.'

    FP Blog has a good update on the situation in Wukan; it opens with:
    Peasants do not have a good record facing off with the Communist Party. Rural standoffs usually end with the arrest of the ringleaders and an increased security presence for the remaining residents. Yet on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 22, residents of the embattled village of Wukan scored a major achievement in their 11-day stand-off with local government, securing the release of one of the village's three detained leaders; the other two were released today.
    Then asks is Wukan a crisis barometer:
    The small farming village of 13,000 thousand embodies social changes brought about by more than 30 years of economic reforms in China.
    I would suggest not:
    ...most Wukanese stressed that they only wanted resolution of their local issues, and that they maintained trust in the Communist Party.
    Link:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...ption?page=0,0
    davidbfpo

  5. #25
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default No news from Wukan: protests are far from an isolated anomaly

    Hat tip to Open Democracy:
    The western media are too easily tying each and every mass incident to the question of the country’s democratic reform. Instead we should have a new discourse that captures how ordinary resistance has become in modern-day China. The interesting question is not whether such protests can lead to reform, but rather: How it is that so many can occur without undermining the Party’s rule?
    Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/evelyn-...olated-anomaly

    Despite the lack of coverage, the protest continues and a Google news search confirmed an absence of Western reporting since Xmas 2011, but found this commentary, which appears to be by Communist party cadres. Introduction states:
    Wang Zhanyang, Director of the Political Science Department at the Central Institute of Socialism, contributed this essay to a forum on the implications of Wukan for the country as a whole. The forum responds to the December 22 People’s Daily editorial, “What Does ‘Wukan‘s Turn’ Mean for Us?”
    Link:http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2012/01...lage-autonomy/
    davidbfpo

  6. #26
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Chinese Riots over I-Phones - are they really the enemy of the future

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...,7243366.story

    The Chinese have a burgeoning middle class and some commentators expect it to transition to to a democracy in the next twenty years.

    http://books.google.com/books/about/...d=T0Yvwq2eYTAC

    Is this really the country we want to hang our hats on as the new threat to the United States?
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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  7. #27
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    Consumerism causes discontent amongst the haves and havenots.

    A great tool to disintegrate society?

    Who is doing it?

    Is it a part of a plan that is succeeding?

  8. #28
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Consumerism causes discontent amongst the haves and havenots.

    A great tool to disintegrate society?

    Who is doing it?

    Is it a part of a plan that is succeeding?
    Westernization and Modernization- part of the continued process of adding a Walmart and McDonalds in every city. This issue is better articulated by Samuel Huntington and Fareed Zakaria.

  9. #29
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Consumerism causes discontent amongst the haves and havenots.

    A great tool to disintegrate society?

    Who is doing it?

    Is it a part of a plan that is succeeding?
    Sounds almost like the great Satan is succeding in sapping the Dragons strenght before it is able to rise. Sometimes I think the cui bono gets streched a bit too far.

    In general the Western Way after WWII has led to far more equal societies then in pretty much ages before. This trend has been reversed to a different degree in Western countries, due to a couple of economic and political trends, but in general it is hard to find a period in which societies have been more equal and stable for such a long time. And that even at times such as this ones, with irregular mass protests in some countries and one of the European countries, Greece at the verge of bankruptcy.

  10. #30
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Westernization and Modernization- part of the continued process of adding a Walmart and McDonalds in every city. This issue is better articulated by Samuel Huntington and Fareed Zakaria.
    With a middle class comes social and political change ala Huntington. The Western power are doing this but not through any coherent plan. As the middle class spreads there are two possible outcomes. First, slow transition to a more liberal form of "democracy" then is currently practiced in China or the "J-Curve" where there is a tightening of authority that goes too far and there is social upheaval (if they will riot over not getting the latest I-Phone just wait to see what they will do if you try to take them away).

    The question for the Western Liberal Democracies is how do you foster this change and where do our military fit into that transition.

    If China were to become a more democratic state but still very nationalist and very much wanting to demonstrate its renewed place as a major power in Asia what likelihood is there that it will use its military to demonstrate its power (versus using its economic influence as in the case of Africa)?

    What is China's military likely to do? Will it feel the need to continue the Maoist revolution and crack down independent of the Party or will it quietly accept the changes?

    What will happen in large part will be based on the value system of the middle class. If they remain Confucianist then change will probably come slowly if at all. If they embrace individualism then change may come sooner. I am assuming that if they are rioting for cell phones they are leaning towards individualism. In any case the rural poor will probably remain Confucionist and simply accept whatever the middle class dictate.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 01-15-2012 at 02:25 PM.
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  11. #31
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    With a middle class comes social and political change ala Huntington. The Western power are doing this but not through any coherent plan.
    I don't see how you can say that "the Western powers are doing this". They aren't, by plan or otherwise. he Chinese are doing it themselves.

    It's interesting too see people saying that "consumerism" spas strength and disintegrates society, when the strongest and most integrated societies on the planet are unabashedly consumerist.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    As the middle class spreads there are two possible outcomes. First, slow transition to a more liberal form of "democracy" then is currently practiced in China or the "J-Curve" where there is a tightening of authority that goes too far and there is social upheaval (if they will riot over not getting the latest I-Phone just wait to see what they will do if you try to take them away).
    A third alternative, and IMO most likely, is a serious economic crash followed by serious disorder. That could lead to a conservative backlash and an effort to return to the pure way of communism under military leadership, it could lead to the emergence of a more democratic order, or a whole buch of other things.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    The question for the Western Liberal Democracies is how do you foster this change and where do our military fit into that transition.
    A simple answer is that we don't do anything. We accept that it's not about us, and we watch.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  12. #32
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Default Spend, Spend, Spend

    Us Westrners are doing it by buying Chinese. We effectively shift our production of a number of products to China over the last twenty years or longer. Textiles, plastics, electronics, steel (although some of these are now moving to other countries). As a result, they have had increased economic success. Had we chosen not to engage the Chinese and left them in isolation I dare say that this level of economic expansion would not be possible.

    Of course a large part of the credit goes to the Chinese, including their socialist policy of government ownership of businesses that effectively makes the government a partner in every business enterprise, slowly drawing them into the capitalist web.

    The change will come. As other threads have noted even the military is expecting to transition to democracy. Historically these transitions can be messy. Theoretically, a poorly executed transition can lead to regional instability.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
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  13. #33
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    The Chinese made the decision to mass produce consumer goods for export. A decision not to buy those goods would have been perverse and largely unenforceable. This is not something "we" are doing to "them", it's a natural part of their evolution. It's not as if entrepreneurship is in any way alien to Chinese culture, far from it...
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    The change will come. As other threads have noted even the military is expecting to transition to democracy. Historically these transitions can be messy. Theoretically, a poorly executed transition can lead to regional instability.
    The Chinese will change or not change in their own way. Ultimately, they want to be like the West in that they way to pursue their own version of the American Dream (Chinese Dream?).

    Another way to look at the issue is to recognize that we have two major problems in understanding China.

    1. Sourcing. A lot of U.S. and western understanding about China is viewed from a Taiwanese lens. This lens is skewed toward a particular ideology.

    2. Mass. China is huge. What looks like a riot at an Apple store may actually be normal for the way things work in an urban environment.

  15. #35
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    China has a history of regional revolts and warlords.

    The Chinese know and understand that the pseudo-communist regime is their best hope for unity in peace, for a powerful China which can resist even foreign great powers.

    A move towards nation-wide democracy risks a Soviet Union-like collapse (losing especially Western parts), fractioning and even civil war.
    Only the one-party dictatorship with its domestic intelligence service and toughness can claim to have ever kept China at de facto unity and peace for decades.



    Different background lead to different behaviour. The expectations about other's behaviours and standards applied can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. Such conflicts (and foreign policy mistakes) may be avoidable with a sufficient understanding of the other's background.

    That's why I'd like to mention three important parts of Chinese history.
    I'm no China expert, but I know a lot about history, and some events in Chinese history were just too large - they had a lasting influence on the Chinese culture.

    - - - - -

    Historical Fact #1 is their never-ending quest for unified central governance.

    China had been unified in 221 BC (after the period of the warring states that gave us the teachings of Sun Tzu).
    Since then it was in an seemingly endless struggle against decentralization. Many powerful governors of provinces attempted to rule independently, many uprisings led to preliminary independent states and the 20th century civil war of communists vs. nationalists was the last great division of the country.
    China isn't really one nation, but it's a group of nations that know prosperity only from times of unity.
    The Communist's party reputation rests in great part on its ability to keep the country united (except Taiwan, of course) and to prevent civil war. (Another reason for its power is its ability to prevent famines.)

    This historical fact leads to two important insights:
    (1) It's near-insane to expect mainland China to accept a secession of Uighurs, Tibetans or other regions, or to give up its claim on Taiwan.
    (2) The PR China can be expected to crack down reliably on too independent (corrupt) governors and bureaucracies in order to retain as much central control as the central government wants to have.

    - - - - -

    Historical fact #2 is the Chinese experience religious fanatics/sects.

    The best and most influential example is the Taiping Rebellion. It raged in 1850-1864 and killed much more people than the First World War. The reason was a pseudo-Christian sect.
    This war is almost entirely unknown in the Western World - that's not surprising, for Western knowledge of history in 'exotic' places is pretty much limited to universities with historical seminars.

    This historical fact should help to explain why it's pointless and very irritating to call for a more moderate treatment of sects like Falun Gong by the Chinese authorities.

    - - - - -

    Historical fact #3 is the Opium wars and the effect of Western imperialism on China in the 19th century.

    The short story is that China was humiliated, partially colonized, pumped full with drugs, subjected to dictates about domestic legislation, exploited and disrespected by foreigners - especially Europeans.

    The foreign control of Hong Kong (by the UK) and Macau (by Portuguese) was a well-known reminder of this history till a few years ago.

    This historical fact explains why Chinese have a good reason to reject even the slightest attempt of outside interference in domestic affairs. We can attempt it, but it's most likely a stupid idea.

    - - - - -

    On top of that there's of course a rich culture and history as an ancient civilization.

    There was also a bloody war with Japan in 1937-1945 (with several previous clashes) that deserves to be called the beginning of WW2 because it was really a huge war with many victims and only ended with the Japanese surrender.
    The Japanese did never really apologise for the war and what Japanese forces did in that war. That and a lingering racism in the triangle of China-Korea-Japan is a serious burden on foreign policy relations in the region.

    - - - - -

    We should look at China's history and its lasting impact in order to avoid unnecessary conflicts and irritations. The knowledge of history also helps to avoid illusions about China and our influence on it.
    Other historical facts than the ones I mentioned lead to additional insights, for example its own (limited) imperial history and its history with Korea and other continental neighbours.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Chinese know and understand that the pseudo-communist regime is their best hope for unity in peace, for a powerful China which can resist even foreign great powers.
    The Chinese know? What, all 1.3 billion of them?

    I suspect you'd find that there's as little consensus in China as anywhere else, and a very considerable degree of discontent with the established order. Paradoxically, this discontent is often most prominent among those who might be called the winners under the established order... though a serious economic disruption and consequent unemployment is likely to get the commoners pretty fired up as well.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  18. #38
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I am under the impression that my choice of words meant "a strong enough majority of those who care about politics at all".

    Accurate choice of words is nice and all, but sometimes there's a superior trade-off to be had if you risk being misunderstood once in a while and in exchange can skip entire book volumes of writing over the course of a few years.
    People tend to be annoyed or bored by super-accurate writing styles anyway.

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    "Consumerism" certainly disintegrates society. The strongest and most integrated societies on the planet are unabashedly consumerist, but they were not subjected to a socialist or a communist system and then introduced to globalisation! They evolved differently.

    Unbridled consumerism unleashed by globalisation does affect nations that till now have been subjected to socialist or communist governance where life is dictated and decided from the womb to the tomb. And where daily necessities were shoddy and substandard as per western standards.

    Globalisation and consumerism gives the citizenry a ‘freedom’ that they cannot fathom or handle. As it grows on the citizenry, the individual aspirations and desires soar. However, the State is in no position to address the same.

    In such a scenario, a section of society by various means, fair or foul, enjoy the new found societal structure acquiring immense wealth, while the majority continues to wallow, and what is worse, is that they do not have the ‘safety’ of the socialist or communist system based on the womb to the tomb policy.

    The gap between the haves and have nots increases, the gap between the rural and the urban, the gap between the industrialist and the worker, the gap between the farmer and the owner of the food mart increases and all this causes disharmony.

    The real poor, who have no hope in hell to compete, take to arms and there is insurrection, the rationale given for such insurrection can be many, but is basically social injustice, inequality and poverty.

    Therefore, the environment is ideal for exploitation, be it by forces within or by any external power that wishes to do so!

    Just look around!

    Don't confine to China alone!
    Last edited by Ray; 01-18-2012 at 06:29 AM.

  20. #40
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I am under the impression that my choice of words meant "a strong enough majority of those who care about politics at all".
    Ok, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you mean to say something like...

    a strong enough majority of those who care about politics at all... know and understand that the pseudo-communist regime is their best hope for unity in peace, for a powerful China which can resist even foreign great powers.

    Upon what evidence is that conclusion based?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    "Consumerism" certainly disintegrates society. The strongest and most integrated societies on the planet are unabashedly consumerist, but they were not subjected to a socialist or a communist system and then introduced to globalisation! They evolved differently.

    Unbridled consumerism unleashed by globalisation does affect nations that till now have been subjected to socialist or communist governance where life is dictated and decided from the womb to the tomb. And where daily necessities were shoddy and substandard as per western standards.

    Globalisation and consumerism gives the citizenry a ‘freedom’ that they cannot fathom or handle. As it grows on the citizenry, the individual aspirations and desires soar. However, the State is in no position to address the same.

    In such a scenario, a section of society by various means, fair or foul, enjoy the new found societal structure acquiring immense wealth, while the majority continues to wallow, and what is worse, is that they do not have the ‘safety’ of the socialist or communist system based on the womb to the tomb policy.

    The gap between the haves and have nots increases, the gap between the rural and the urban, the gap between the industrialist and the worker, the gap between the farmer and the owner of the food mart increases and all this causes disharmony.

    The real poor, who have no hope in hell to compete, take to arms and there is insurrection, the rationale given for such insurrection can be many, but is basically social injustice, inequality and poverty.

    Therefore, the environment is ideal for exploitation, be it by forces within or by any external power that wishes to do so!

    Just look around!

    Don't confine to China alone!
    Where would you have us look? In which formerly communist states are the "real poor" taking to arms in insurrection?

    Even if the transition out of communism and the rise of consumerism creates some degree of disruptive force, what can anyone do about it? Try to preserve a detested system that nobody wants to keep? Tell people they won't be allowed to acquire more goods because that would disintegrate society? I suspect that efforts to forcibly repress emergent consumerism in order to prevent these rather hypothetical disintegrating effects would disintegrate things a lot faster and cause a lot more rebellion than consumerism would.
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 01-18-2012 at 11:59 AM.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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