How long can China hold?

Posted in the China Forum

Since: Dec 12

Shenyang, China

#1 Dec 30, 2012
How long can China hold?
  In the wake of recent social and political turmoil in the Middle East, China had witnessed a long-line of farewells to her “old friends”----from Hosni Mubarak to Moammar Gadhafi, as their most hated regimes were toppled down one after another by angry people. With more dictatorships fading away from the scene, the international club of totalitarian regimes has now been significantly reduced to a few hard-core members such as North Korea and Cuba, with Communist China as the indisputable leader.
  It may still be too early to have a clear evaluation as to the effect of these uprisings on the political and social development in China, a country that has been until now ruled by a single party since its revolutionary victory in 1949. There are many reasons why the ruling classes in China will have hard time to cope with the current upheavals in the Middle East; for one thing, they might have foreseen their own demise in the tragic ending of Moammar Gadhafi. Explicitly, China does currently exist in a situation not totally unlike that of the Middle Eastern countries where societies are dominated by non-democratic governments that have become increasingly incompetent and unpopular, while majority of the population living in poverty and despair.
  Given the two decades of geo-political developments worldwide, starting from the collapse of Soviet Union and communist states in Eastern Europe, to the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq following the second Gulf war, the progress in democracy and freedom in the Middle East as we have witnessed now is by no means unexpected. Now, with Middle East turmoil coming to an intermission, the focus will inevitably shift to Asia. This move is also coinciding with United Sates’ economic and diplomatic engagement with China, a country many Americans believe to have played an important part of the financial crisis the US is facing. A clear indication might be the statement made by the newly appointed US ambassador to China, Gary Lock, who claimed the issue of human rights was a factor essential to the disputes on trade, while commenting on the economic relations between the two countries. Some even harsher remarks came from the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton labeling China’s continued resistance to political reform as “a fool’s errand running against the wheel of history”.

Since: Dec 12

Shenyang, China

#2 Dec 30, 2012
How long can China hold?
 Clearly, how China is going to react to the impact caused by Middle East events is crucial to the future of China and the world as a whole. The central question seems to be: Should similar movement happen in China, what would be the consequences? How should the world react in case of China’s falling apart—the collapse of the communist regime? Given the size and population, as China’s long history has shown repeatedly, any social upheavals in the hands of unruly mobs will certainly lead to catastrophes of biblical proportion.
  Labele d as the most tenacious and pragmatic regime in the modern history, Communist China had so far outmaneuvered and outwitted most of its rivals, both domestic and foreign, and managed to survive despite all disadvantageous situations it had encountered along the way. The fact that Chinese Communist Party had managed to rise to power and to stay in power for the past 60 years is nothing short of a miracle, though the word might not sound fair and sensible to regime’s victims of persecution and wrongful death, widely estimated at 50-70 millions. The same pragmatic and shrewd strategy with which Mao used to come to power in 1949, helped Deng and his regime to survive in the wake of his predecessor’s gargantuan failure in his utopian pursuit of socialistic heaven on earth.
  Now, the question appears to be whether that strategy can work again. Communist China is facing a new world where over 90% of the countries are run by democratically elected governments, and democracy and human rights are no longer a Western ideology, but a value system universally applicable to all living souls on this planet. Needless to say the regime had virtually run out of its trump cards, and more or so lost its mandate from people as it had been proven unable to solve social and economic problems. China now sits on the top of the list of countries with the most social and economic inequality, and the situation is increasingly getting worse as its real estate and export based economy is about to hit the wall.

Since: Dec 12

Shenyang, China

#3 Dec 30, 2012
 Few people in today’s China, including those within the governmental system, have any doubt as to whether or not the regime will eventually come to an end, the question is a matter of when and how. If the regime were toppled down in a violent revolution, as did in Romanian or Libya, the corrupt officials would be facing retribution. Social turmoil could certainly ensue, which would put foreign investments in China at risk, and might indirectly lead to foreign interferences through military means. Apparently, this would be the worst scenario in which no one came out as a winner. Nevertheless, the United States and other Western powers should have prepared contingency plans, were this scenario to turn into reality.
  The optimistic scenario--- realizing its hopeless situation, the ruling party decides to initiate political reform, and return power to people, electing a constitutional based government to run the nation—would be a happy-ending for everyone. To make this happen, the leadership should have vision and courage to repent its original sin and start a new life. Both culture and people are needed in order to facilitate this transition. Unfortunately, a leader or a group of individuals with such characteristics hasn’t yet to be seen in today’s China political arena, mostly owing to the ailing bureaucratic system in which only men of mediocrity, but not individuals with character and integrity, could ever be promoted to the top.
  So much for the shopworn trope in rhetoric of international affairs such as “interest based foreign diplomacy”, as
  intern ational plutocrats relentlessly preach pragmatism when dealing with dictatorships. In addition, it is not least untrue to the saying that goes like this:“America will not succeed unless American businesses succeed”. However, despite its intrinsic truth, that wisdom of pragmatism has now been carried out way too far, especially when United States painfully finds itself in debt to China up to ears, mostly due to trade surplus resulted from China’s low-cost production, and lack of purchasing power among Chinese to buy American made products. When dealing with a hidden and pragmatic dictatorship like Communist China, no doubt the foreign policy ought to be principle and value driven, lest American interests should be seriously undermined. It remains questionable as to whether any contracts enacted with a government that is fundamentally hostile to the very basic principles of free society---free expression, human rights, and private property rights---could indeed be accountable for long.

Since: Dec 12

Shenyang, China

#4 Dec 30, 2012
Another integral piece to the Chinese puzzle is how to categorize China in both political and economic sense; exactly what kind of government is running the country? Is China still a communist nation? Without a doubt, today’s China is as different from Mao’s China as day and night. People are enjoying freedom and material prosperity unimaginable 40 years ago. Yet underneath this dazzling economic achievement as accredited by the title of second largest economy by GDP, a Lenin-Mao political structure remains virtually intact. With most key industries and financial resources controlled by state owned big conglomerates, China’s economy is by no means market oriented and a free one. China is also adopting a strict foreign exchange control policy, which gives government an edge to engage in currency manipulation ----a financial weapon to bargain with and undermine Western powers in exchange for their recognition of regime’s legitimacy to rule.
  60 years ago, communists won the victory in civil war against nationalists largely due to Mao’s land reform policy, which promised Chinese peasantry an egalitarian society. The goal was achieved not through purchase and taxation, as nationalist government would have done, but through violent confiscation of lands from landowners. This short cut to social and economic equality proved to be an effective strategy of winning the support from the peasants in later war against Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalistic government. However, that egalitarian utopia appeared to be short-lived as the communist regime, right after its victory, quickly took back the lands from peasants and forced them to join in the so-called socialistic people’s communes. This act severely hurt the agricultural productivity and indirectly resulted in the largest man-made famine in the history in which over 30 millions people, mostly peasants, had perished as result of starvation. The upcoming Cultural Revolution was equally disastrous. Mao hoped to regain his faded prestige and power by launching a massive mob campaign to purge those who were not standing on his side. By 1976 the year when Cultural Revolution had finally ended following Mao’s death, the communist regime was on the verge of collapse, both economic and political. As Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping inherited a virtually bankrupt country when he came to power in 1980. Just like Mao did in his scheme to gain power, Deng, by utilizing an equally shrew and pragmatic strategy, gave the green light to the policy of “get rich quick” or“getting rich is glorious”,----lawless capitalism in guise of “socialism with unique Chinese characteristics”. Money, instead of political power, was what people started to pursue. With lack of democratic system of checks and balances, the government officials had easily made themselves millionaires by giving public assets and economic rights to their cronies in exchange for bribes. In the meanwhile, majority of population, especially peasants and workers, were left out of the wealth distribution, only to find themselves being sold to the sweatshops and factories owned and operated either by foreign investors or state’s big conglomerates. China’s economic miracle, mostly attributed to its successful export industries, was a result of the suffering of these underprivileged people toiling in these factories and sweatshops, sometimes earning less than $ 5 a day. Despite its fabulous superficialities as testified by extravagant events like Olympic Games and World Exhibit Shows, China’s economy is in deep water, as housing price, inflation, unemployment and corruption all become increasingly getting out of control. The regime had thus lost its mandate from people because it had breached the covenant that promised a social and economic equality for all.

Since: Dec 12

Shenyang, China

#5 Dec 30, 2012
The key to the solution to China’s problem is how Chinese society and people develop in face of this new trend of democracy and human rights that is bound to go global. There needs to be a general awakening in people’s hearts addressing the fundamental questions like: what should be our basic rights? In what way can we effectively protect these rights? What kind society and government do we really want to have? Unless questions like these being thoroughly searched and answered, any political establishments aimed at solving China’s social and economic problems will be groundless and short-lived. In the meanwhile, United States should actively play its role in helping China’s society and people to grow. Lacking of economic and cultural capacity to engage in anything of that magnitude, no country other than the United States can creditably play this role. And the United States is better to do that job well, for the sake of its own interest, and the world’s as well.

Beijing, China

#6 Dec 30, 2012
china can hold another 1000 years.

are you desperate?

United States

#7 Dec 31, 2012
by Arthur Borges

One big thingie that Mao did for his people was to cancel the debts of the peasants, who were in no position to question the calculations of principal & interest presented by their landlords. The peasants got full usufruct to parcels of land that at least guaranteed them debt-free subsistence.

This was unprecedented.

True, it wasn't instant and true, Mao had to do deals with local warlords (or, more properly: ethnarchs) in order to avoid the sort of postwar internecine warfare we're seeing in post-Gaddafi Libya today, but he did lay the foundations of China's current resurgence as a key player in world politics and its economy.

United States

#8 Dec 31, 2012
BY Arthur Borges

The British wars for drugs, aka "Opium Wars" killed most of 90 million.

The difference is that the west killed to destroy a country; Mao killed to build one.

And China was free of drug addiction by 1953.

United States

#9 Dec 31, 2012
BY legal eagle

I wonder in what context the photo was taken, I have a feeling it is not what it appears.

In any event, I have found that people in China are more free than in Chicago or New York. They need not fear walking the streets at night, they have access to medical care and transportation, there is free education for those who apply themselves. Yes, the Chinese must fear their government, but anyone who does not fear the US government is a fool. The world's war monger is the US, and the IRS is the world gestapo. In China people regularly debate their government;s value - the only prohibition is on mass demonstration. Anyone who watched what happened to the Wall Street protestors, and the poor sap who is facing terrorism charges for holding a sign in front of a bank (covered here yesterday) knows the US is not much different in that regard, not to mention our new love for torture, holding folks indefinitely without charge, secret prisons, etc. etc.

People can open businesses in China, as in the US, they can complain about their government at home, as in the US, and are punished if they demonstrate in public, like the US. Other than the fact that the China has not started a new war in a long long time, and the US goes to war annually, and that the streets in Shanghai and Bejing are safe when compared to New York and Chicago, or any other major US city, there does not seem to be that big of a difference,

Tue, 08/28/2012 -

San Francisco, CA

#10 Dec 31, 2012
If we studied history, of all the ancient civilizations, China has held on and thrive the best. It is indeed a unique country. It has led the world in many categories and still does--solar, wind, geothermal, HSR, highrises, hydropower, desalination, gold production et al.

Toronto, Canada

#11 Dec 31, 2012
lct wrote:
china can hold another 1000 years.
Long after all these so-called democratic states are long gone.

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