Category Archives: Asia

China: “Autocracies Are Stable”

From the PRC Ministry of TruthPeople’s Daily Online“:

For the pro-America republics, such as Egypt, the United States hoped the authorities would answer the people’s call to end Mubarak’s long-time rule. For the pro-America monarchies, the United States needed to maintain the status quo because of oil interests and the potentially volatile situation in Iran. In those anti-U.S. countries, such as Iran and Syria, the United States would definitely agitate anti-government protests to trigger change.

The author, Zhang Xinyi is the English language Editor of the People’s Daily and a former Olympics News Service manager, suffice to say he’s probably a tad nationalistic or owes to job to guys that are.

The PRC doesn’t seem to get that all of these protests were homegrown, and unrest was inevitable, regardless of later intervention. Or maybe they do get it, and this is a rehash of the Chinese language stories they’re running. Either way to publish this kind of overly simplistic pabulum in English doesn’t do them much good.

Anyone outside of China is clearly aware that whatever the foreign forces in Libya are doing, unrest followed autocracy and clearly preceded NATO fighters.

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China Eyes Japan’s Big…Society

From the East Asia Forum, this is a translated article that originally appeared in IFeng, a Hong Kong based news organization aimed at Chinese readers.

Japan’s big nation and big society was laid down by the restructuring of constitutional government in the middle of last century, and the country has so far seen half a century of great results.

This looks to be a rather pointed rebuke to the CCP, and attempts to link China’s perceived (by the author and/or others) lack of social cohesion to the CCP’s limits on political rights, something Wen Jiabao would probably agree with, or at least somewhat.

According to its wiki page, IFeng is “one of the few privately owned broadcasting companies in mainland China able to broadcast information about events not covered by the government media, such as the coverage on the Rally Against Basic Law Article 23 on 1 July 2003.”

Maybe I’m reading too far into the constitutional argument in this article, but this does seem to be a pretty obvious rejection of the CCP. It’s no surprising to see this coming out of HK, what I’d like to know is what kind of exposure this piece is getting.


China Eyes Jasmine

Why so skittish? Apparently China’s leaky Great Firewall was unable to stop some vague microblog calls for demonstrations around China, termed the “Jasmine Revolution”, a copy of the Tunisian name.

This comes only a short time after Hu Jintao spoke about the coming challenges to “solve prominent problems which might harm the harmony and stability of the society” to a gathering of provincial and minsisterial level functionaries.

However,  it seems that things never really got off the ground, with police and journalists outnumbering protesters. China has historically been very wary of an kind of mass demonstrations, even ones against Japan, as they can cut both ways. They may assuage nationalist sentiment, but run the risk of becoming too xenophobic, as I wrote about in a paper for a class. They can also move away from nationalist sentiment and towards calls for reform, as the NYT reported was happening today.

The messages calling people to action urged protesters to shout “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness,” an ostensible effort to tap into popular discontent over inflation and soaring real estate prices.

There’s really no way that Beijing is going to allow a movement overtly calling for change (without a nationalist angle) to run its course naturally. In the past it has managed anti-Japanese protests very closely, even ordering organizers out of Beijing in 2003.  There’s no way it will treat a baldly reforming agenda with kid gloves.

If there are any demonstrations this spring they will occur without the slightest tolerance from the PRC.


China Eyes the Gulf

As Joshua Kurlantzick notes in Asia Unbound, China is not in the same boat as the current or former Middle Eastern regimes in Bahrain, Tunisia, and Egypt.

The era of Chinese intellectuals and pro-democracy activists looking clearly to the United States for guidance, if that ever existed, is over.

China’s regime has, since Tiananmen, remained pretty consistent in managing the tone of its opposition to the US. In the mid-90s, the book “China That Can Say No” was published, to great fanfare on the Mainland. It attempted to set Chinese values at odds with the trends in the West (primarily the US), and sold well for years. It relied heavily on Han nationalim, stating

In the next  century  …  Chinese  thought,  and  Chinese entrepreneurial abilities  will  deeply  influence  the world, becoming the  sole force leading  human thought

This type of thinking appeals directly to what David Shambaugh has called the “nativist” element in his paper “Coping With a Conflicted China”, comprised of “populists, xenophobic nationalists, and Marxists.” This group may not like what the CCP has done in regards to its opening up and trade with the West, but it still views the government as the best vehicle for spreading the thought leading force it views as China’s birthright in the coming years.