Friday, October 16, 2009

Sweet and Sour . . .

THE LA TIMES has an opinion piece worthy of your consideration. Titled "China's class ceiling" by Ian Buruma, it points out that all is not well in the Workers' Wonderland, and that things are getting worse.

China is the only ancient civilization in human history to have reemerged as a major force in the world. And Chinese are rightly proud of this. So why rock the boat? It is better to be ruled by boring technocrats like Hu who will keep things nice and steady.

This is not the story one might hear from unemployed workers in the rust belts of northeastern China, or from rioting farmers in Guangdong province who have been pushed off the land by greedy developers working in tandem with corrupt party officials. Nor is this view necessarily shared by the brave lawyers willing to take on some of those corrupt officials, or intellectual dissidents who still get arrested for arguing that Chinese should be entitled to basic democratic rights.

But it is the common line taken by people who benefit most from the current wave of fun, fashion and prosperity -- the new urban elite, some of whom are pampered children of Communist Party bosses. None are communist ideologues. All have taken the late leader Deng Xiaoping's "To Get Rich is Glorious" slogan seriously. And not a few of them, now in their 40s, were among the Tiananmen Square demonstrators in 1989 who demanded democratic freedoms and an end to corruption.

One pokes into this contradiction at one's peril, especially if one is a foreigner.

Why should you care? Well, planning on assumption can be risky. And assuming a future monolithic stability for China . . .  rotsa ruck.

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