January 3, 2008


Fissures hard for Beijing to cover up
(Rosemary Righter, January 04, 2008, The Australian)

China intended the Olympics to be a $40billion showcase for its triumphant economic revival, but as Beijing grooms half a million volunteers to take visitors helpfully in hand, the authorities are nervously realising that, with more than 20,000 journalists expected in town, it will be harder than they expected to hide from view the tensions and gross inequalities resulting from its chaotic dash for growth, or the reality that the political system is badly out of step with a rapidly changing society. Increasingly outspoken demands for cleaner air, cleaner politics and a fairer society that respects individual rights are welling up from below, and not only from below. The Deng-era reformer Li Rui, an elder statesman too eminent to be silenced, declared just before October's party congress that China's most bitterly resented problems - rampant official corruption and disregard for the environment - would not be cured without a revolution to open up the system.

Most talk of democratic socialist liberalisation means little more than cleaning up the Communist Party's act, the better to consolidate its control. But even President Hu Jintao has felt compelled to talk the talk of earnestly respecting and guaranteeing the rights and interests of all social groups, to repackage the party as the guardian of democracy and, in a sop to the urban middle classes, to allow town dwellers to own private property. Most dramatically, he has declared that class struggle is an incorrect concept that must give way to a people-centred approach that offers opportunity to all.

Ideologically, the leadership has ventured on to thin ice.

The best thing about the Left not understanding that Gorbachev was trying to save the USSR is that they haven't figured out that what was meant to be just rhetoric became, as it so often does, a reality beyond the speaker's control.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 3, 2008 9:31 PM

Wewl, that's how it goes: restructuring to openness to downfall.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 4, 2008 7:37 AM

It's not the 20,000 journalists they have to worry about, it's the 2,000,000 tourists with cell phones and cameras and other electronic gizmos that will transmit what they see to the rest of the world.

Good luck if they think they can corral it all.

Posted by: erp at January 4, 2008 8:59 AM

Even just rhetoric about restructuring causes the downfall because it undermines the structure.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2008 11:30 AM