March 19, 2008


A blow against Beijing's security: The revolt by ethnic Tibetans revealed a police apparatus that, despite its size and liberty to act, was caught unawares (Mark Magnier, 3/19/08, Los Angeles Times)

A question the Chinese Communist Party will no doubt be asking itself for years to come is how its vast security apparatus could stumble so badly to allow the situation in ethnically Tibetan regions of China to get so out of control.

Although the budgets and staffing levels of China's police and intelligence agencies are a state secret, it's clear they are among the largest in the world, with roots that penetrate deep into neighborhoods, companies and even monasteries.

Yet a ground-level view I received of the unrest and crackdown at Xiahe in Gansu province last week offered a look at how flat-footed the vaunted security machine could be, at least here, despite its size, budget and ability to act without warrants or other democratic niceties. When the first signs of unrest hit Friday, the police were caught unaware. They rallied later that day but apparently underestimated the people's willingness to protect the monks. Having put out a small skirmish, the police seemed taken by surprise the next day when the protesters came back far stronger. And many of the police tactics appeared to inflame passions rather than calm the situation.

...a massive communist bureaucracy would fall prey to it's own rhetoric about there being no problems and then prove ineffective in dealing with them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 19, 2008 7:46 AM
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