Friday, December 19, 2014

China and the 'West' have very different 'lenses,' when it comes to 'freedom!

Without a doubt, more people in China now could be classed as 'middle-class,' with access to goods and services that most NZers take for granted. Famine is a thing of the past for the most part. Political choice and 'freedom are a very different issue though. I am sure that my Chinese 'friends' would say though that 'for most Chinese, public order' is a far more valued quality and that disorder is a 'scenario' that is far more scary than the right to publicly criticise the regime or the dominant Communist Party that controls most aspects of life in China. If one of course is a dissident and there are ever increasing numbers of such people, then my statement will be viewed as RUBBISH! Tell that to the 'artists, poets, authors and 'quasi-religious' groups who wish to express their viewpoints or simply 'exist.' There remains the question of the vast numbers or ordinary workers, who work long hours for relatively small amounts of money. It is the 'West' and the rest of the world that drives the demand for the results of these workers---cheap 'goods' that the world now heavily relies on. The very same workers are demanding better working conditions but they can only push so far in this 'controlled' economy. Many in the West are increasingly uncomfortable, if the reports of the long hours and heavy-handed manner in which these workers are treated are indeed correct! Forget about 'workers strikes' that actually succeed in bettering the conditions that no NZer would accept. (although there are those here who would disagree with me!) Human rights issues are something that the Chinese Government would happily sweep under the mat and if the reaction of a high Government member, interviewed on CNN, today is the norm, then it is obvious that moves to improve those issue is a distant goal. China faces a dilemma: does it continue to be the 'workhouse of the world,' producing a vast array of goods at competitive prices or does it gradually increase the wages and improve conditions for the workers, putting its dominant position at risk as other countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia start to challenge China's dream run? China has come a long way since the 'revolution,' but it will find it ever harder to control the aspirations of its people, who like all people, have dreams of a better life. It is the manner in which such aspirations are delivered and the amount of control the State' has over those people that will remain China's long term challenge.