Friday, 4 March 2011

China - the long march towards democracy

Hypocrisy has reached its zenith when you hear Western politicians say they have learnt the lesson of the current Middle East unrest – you shouldn’t prop up dictatorships in what will probably turn out a vain attempt to achieve stability.
Then in the next breath they cosy up to China, a country which annexed Tibet, permits no opposition to the ruling Communist Party, where internet traffic is rigorously controlled, and has a deplorable record on civil rights.
One day the hundreds of democracy protesters who died when tanks rolled into Tianamen Square in June 1989 will be celebrated in their own country as martyrs.
It won’t happen in my lifetime but I hope some manner of recognisable democracy comes to China before too long. With the opening of the annual People’s Congress tomorrow, there are signs that the seeds of dissent have already been sewn. Only time will tell if they take root.
The BBC’s China correspondent Damian Grammaticus has been roughed up recently by “plainclothes thugs” on the streets of the capital. His blog today spells out “China’s fear of Middle East-style unrest.”
There are confrontations every day in this vast country - of modest scale and easily dealt with, according to Grammaticus. “China's rulers worry these small disputes could snowball into something bigger. They are particularly worried about the way the internet or images in the media can stir up public opinion,” he writes.
Of course civil rights count for nothing if you have an empty belly and your children are starving. So while the Beijing government continues to raise the living standards of the world’s most populous country, I see little chance of coordinated opposition.
Economically China is in the process of building its consumer market at home. To do so wages have to rise and health care improved so people spend rather than save to provide for illness and old age.
But all sorts of stresses can build up in times of rapid change – the have and the have-nots have their own pressing demands; corruption can flourish; ethnic and religious tensions can grow.
China is a leading lender nation and a major military force. So its power on the world stage is feared. But it would be a mistake to believe the Beijing gerontocracy can hold the people in thrall for all time.


  1. Late last night, [Saturday 05/03/11], Sky 24 hour News showed their woman presenter being roughed up to camera [by Chinese in plain clothes] as she tried to present to camera. She was blatently pushed and shoved as she presented and her colleagues were also atacked. I spotted at least a couple of head high kung fu kicks to one of the cameraman [Jaffa].

  2. Just imagine what happens away from the cameras, say, when peasants try to prevent their homes being demolished. GC

  3. Let's get the Middle East over with first before we start on China. The Chinese may not have human rights sorted but they have already sorted alot of other matters.


What do you think? GC