Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Beijing is starting to crack down on the anti-Japanese riots:
BEIJING - As anti-Japanese protests continued for a third day in a row Tuesday, government censors imposed a news blackout on coverage of protests, signaling that Beijing was trying to contain further damage to already strained Sino-Japanese relations.
There's a number of possible reasons for this. The first and most obvious one is that Beijing doesn't want the riots to get out of hand, for fear of damaging Japanese relations irreparably.

However, the more likely one, in my book, is expressed at the end of the article:
"Our government is too weak," grumbled Yang Xiaodong, a 40-something Beijinger who described himself as self-employed. "They should keep the media blasting for a week, or even for two weeks, until everybody in China and the whole word takes notice."
But Chinese leaders may fear, too, that continuous anti-Japan demonstrations could trigger protests about broader social grievances, speculated a university professor who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Aha. Beijing was fine when the complaints were directed expressly at Tokyo, but when the angry faces start looking towards Beijing, well, that's a different story. And people are still pissed off with the way Beijing treated Zhao Ziyang:
"Just two months ago, Chinese communist leaders refused to let people come out and publicly commemorate the late Zhao Ziyang [the purged party leader who sympathized with the 1989 Tiananmen student demonstrators]. They know that wound is still fresh and could easily open," the professor said. '. "They don't want protests to turn against them."
This is a sign of what's to come in China. The party has played on the sincere anger of the Chinese over history to prop up a regime that lacks any strong ideological support - they gave up on Communism, Maoism, and all they're left with is nationalism. But Nationalism is hard to control - the Nazis used it for themselves, but so have a number of democratic movements in history. You want to be careful by getting people hooked on nationalism - you never know if they'll still want you in charge later.


Battlepanda said...

Yes, now that the genie is out of the bottle...

I'm hoping that what people are acquiring a taste of is dissent and right to protest, rather than crazed nationalism.

john said...

That's the hope, isn't it? I'm optimistic, personally. The examples of Taiwan and Hong Kong are really positive, but obviously there's a difference of scale, if nothing else.

Whether China can still be held together as a Democracy is a big question mark, to me.