October 12, 2016


Two Chinas: The Nomenklatura and the Rest : China's elites are unable to reckon with the concerns of ordinary Chinese, much like the Soviet nomenklatura. (Francis P. Sempa, October 10, 2016, The Diplomat)

The current issue of The New Criterion contains a "Letter from Beijing" by Arthur Waldron, the Lauder Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania and one of America's foremost experts on China. Last winter, Waldron attended the funeral of a renowned Chinese soloist, and afterward talked to someone he identifies only as "a brain-truster for the [Chinese] central government," a man who "worked at the center" of China's power structure, who "was on a first-name basis with scores of the highest officials," who "read the secrets every day." This Chinese insider bluntly stated to Waldron that China's political system does not work. "If we place our foot incorrectly," the insider warned,  "we could begin a disaster, violence and civil war."

This is not the rosy picture of a rising China that normally fills the airwaves and popular media throughout much of Asia and the world. "China viewed from the inside is very different than China viewed from the outside," the man told Waldron.

Waldron relates that he soon observed the phenomenon noted by the insider. He and his Chinese friends stood in line behind about a dozen people he describes as "motionless . . . drab, glum, calm, resigned," who were waiting "for their morning meal of scalding hot cabbage and mystery meat" from a small kitchen located on a "rundown square." When one of Waldron's colleagues left the line for a moment then returned, a woman standing in line began yelling obscenities which triggered others in the line to do likewise, then the "whole previously passive line exploded," shouting, cursing, and striking each other. After about a minute it was over.

Waldron's Chinese friends immediately assured him that he had finally seen "what China is really all about." This, they told him, was "the real China." 

Posted by at October 12, 2016 6:44 PM