China’s Tenuous Hold on Peace

February 14, 2012

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A Guardian reporter snuck through seven security checkpoints to take this riveting video of a Tibetan city under lock down following a spate of self-immolations. When I first started writing about the prospect of an uprising in China 18 months ago, I had thought the military would be pivotal: would the military support an uprising or oppose? Many of the soldiers are from rustic areas, and since the political leadership is now mostly western trained, this divisiveness presumably would tip the scales in favor of a successful overthrow.

However, I’ve since been disappointed in the anti-west overtures expressed by the military leadership and jingoism found among the people.  This sparked a more disconcerting thought: would the politicians, desperate to hang onto power, look to deflect attention, blame the West for their own poor management of the economy, and appeal to nationalistic tendencies in a "rally around the flag" political maneuver?

As pointed out by Henry Kissinger and Fareed Zakaria, transitions of power, both domestic and international, seldom come about peacefully. China will be too preoccupied with social stability, and its neighbors, in aggregate, would be powerful enough to counterbalance China’s international ambitions in the South Sea, suggest the duo in a recent debate.

At the moment, the least likely scenario is voluntary reform: more political freedom, the divestment of the source of the Party’s power, State Owned Enterprises, and a free-market oriented attitude towards international trade.

Source: UK Guardian

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