March 8, 2005


A free China doesn't mean a friend (James P. Pinkerton, March 8, 2005, Newsday)

'People Power" is erupting around the world, but what about here in China?

What sort of political arrangements would these 1.3 billion Chinese make for themselves if they could write a real constitution? And should Americans be confident that a democratic China would be friendlier to the United States?

There are two obvious problems with the idea that a democratic China of 1.3 billion people is any more of a threat than a Communist China: (1) once the State starts loosening there won't be one state--the question is how many there will be by the time the Kingdom is done devolving; (2) supposing for a moment that nationalism were a strong enough force to hold together such a disparate collection of regions, with the notable exceptioon of the United States, none of the successful states in the world has even a hundred million citizens and they're all rather homogeneous.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2005 9:06 AM

Guangzhou province as a separate country would chalenge your 100 million barrier.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 8, 2005 12:53 PM


Guangdong Province (Guangzhou - formerly Canton - is the provicial capital) is populated by 110 million (79 million permanent residents; 31 million migrants) according to the latest Chinese census figures. Henan Province is second most populous at 92 million.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at March 8, 2005 7:55 PM

Fred, those are indeed the latest figures, and if the experiences of Hong Kong and Taiwan are any guide, the children of the migrants will grow up in Guangdong and become fully assimilated into the local culture.

In Hong Kong, during the 50s and 60s, there was immense native resentment of the Shanghainese who had flooded into the colony after 1949. This was reflected in any number of Hong Kong movies at the time that typically showed a good Hong Kong boy falling in love with a girl who came from a Shanghainese family, while both families objected fiercely to a possible intermarriage. It's now four decades later, and the Shanghainese have become fully assimilated into Hong Kong's Cantonese culture.

In Taiwan, the same thing is happening to the mainland Chinese who went over to the island with Chiang Kai-shek. Intermarriage is becoming common, and even politicians whose families came from the mainland are learning the Taiwanese language to win votes.

Posted by: X at March 8, 2005 11:38 PM