China--- a huge country with a massive population and a history stretching back way beyond ‘developed civilization in Europe.’ Dynastic power can be measured in centuries and times of peace lasting generations. There were times when China could have spread its influence in far more drastic ways than it is doing now with its economic wealth.
China has much to be proud of. It has lifted significant numbers of its people from poverty and has taken its place in the modern world. That is how it should be.
The development of the last few decades has not come without costs, to the people in rural areas and to the environment. China’s leaders are well aware of the burgeoning demand from its huge middleclass for more freedom and for a say in their future; not one dominated by the Communist Party. One could say that the ‘Party’ is a modern day dynasty. The power vested in that illustrious body far surpasses any institution in the West, one that it is unwilling to give up.
Many Chinese citizens are proud of their country’s new status and have no thoughts of challenging the power of the Party. This will probably remain so, unless the economic growth slows or reverses. The forces that influence this are complex and difficult to understand from the perspective of many in the West.
There are however many worrying aspects to the
New China. For a start, I would be very surprised if Chinese citizens were able to read this blog. I know some do in Hong Kong and I see some hits occasionally from China in the past, but I am pretty sure if my stance changes and becomes more critical of Chinese leadership, then my blog would mysteriously disappear from their screens.
I have watched with a sense of unease the reports coming out of China about the treatment of ‘dissidents,’ Mr Chen being the latest. The fact that the USA and China have reached an ‘uncomfortable,’ understanding about his fate, is also causing me concern. He is a brave man and has spoken out on many issues. He has endangered his family by doing so.
Why has the USA backed down re his safety? Can they take at face value the assurances they have been given that Mr Chen and his family will be safe? There is a new ‘reality’ underlying any understanding between the US officials and their Chinese counterparts. Both countries are now dependant on one another and I believe we are going to see less and less support from the USA (and its allies--- NZ being one) for dissident Chinese.
Yes, we will hear platitudes but everyone knows that such words are meaningless. China now has so much economic power that any country going against them on any issue will face some sort of reprisal or underhanded pressure. I believe that NZ is and has been the victim of this in recent months, over the selling of NZ farms to Chinese interests.
Such unofficial pressure is not new to us, or indeed limited to China. It is now accepted that NZ came under intense pressure from the USA in the 1960’s to send troops to the unpopular Vietnam War, so I am not limiting my sense of unease to China.
What is the future for dissident Chinese? History has taught us that nothing remains the same. There are numerous examples of citizens in many countries demanding better conditions; for political participation and the sharing of wealth. These movements have been the basis for violent revolutions and peaceful transitions. China is no different.
With the internet and other social media formats and future development of these ‘tools,’ no government is going to be exempt from the pressures building up for change. The possible exception may be North Korea, but even there; ‘family’ dynasties will fold or evolve.
The young people of China are increasingly searching for contact with their counterparts in other countries and no amount of surveillance by their government will completely cut off this pathway.
The growing ‘green movement in China will also gain momentum, as its citizens witness and feel the degradation of their environment. The Party will then either change and evolve peacefully or become even more oppressive.
I believe that it is too late for the Government of china to turn the tide. There will be times when their actions will hold the fort for a while, but the expectations built up since Tiananmen Square, will become a flood. China is in for a torrid time, but the end result will be a China quite different from the one we see today.
It is for China to find its own destiny and it surely will.