A New Spring In China?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


What’s going on in Tibet right now is truly horrible and it’s a sad reminder that 1/6th of the world’s population isn’t free.  I’m going to try and find hope, though, in two articles I read in the New York Times today.

The first mentions that during the first 24 hours post-uprising, the police fled.  The article speculates that this was due to the fact that China doesn’t want bad PR before the Olympics.  I’d like to hope that instead it came from the fact that the local police don’t really believe in Beijing’s mandate and didn’t want to kill their neighbours.

The second mentions that 12 intellectuals have signed a petition saying that the official response has been a propaganda campaign and that a dialogue with the Dalai Lama would be better.  Could this be the start of a Solidarity-like movement for China?

In 1989 everyone thought that the Soviet Union was unstoppable - and its empire collapsed in a matter of months.  It turned out the fierce bear was in fact a sclerotic economy plagued by central planning.  Will we see something similar in China?  It’s a massive economy that’s entirely dependent upon exports (there’s nowhere near enough domestic demand to support the economy) so any slowdown will hurt them.  Moreover, millions of people have recently entered the middle class and maybe now they’ll start demanding the political freedom their peers have elsewhere.

Still a pipe dream, but maybe we’re seeing the first chips in the facade.

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