Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is the Chinese state failing?

Fascinating piece from OpenDemocracy about the state of Chinese politics as the People's Republic approaches its 60th anniversary:
Several academics I talked offered sharp insights into the party's and government's current predicament. One as good as said that democracy at the village level had made things worse. Another complained that lawyers were now becoming a huge enemy within, challenging the government and starting to articulate demands that were becoming more and more political in their complexion.

Behind all of this is the immense security apparatus that the CCP now relies on for so much for its authority in "difficult" areas. A recent report estimated that China had no less than 1 million secret-intelligence operatives. How are these tasked and funded; who they are answerable to; how is their effectiveness assessed? These are not simple questions to answer. But somewhere, on someone's budget-sheet, is the costs of a huge amount of people assigned to use government money on "dealing with subversive and terrorist activity". It would be fascinating to know just what this amounts to in financial cost alone.

I am more disheartened than I was even a month ago by how things are in China. The central state seems less effective and in control in many areas than I had thought.
It will be a darkly funny outcome if the People's Republic itself succumbs to a period of warlordism -- the party has implicitly used the threat of civil strife as a justification for its monopoly on power.

Whether the CCP can understand the basic insight of democratic countries, and survive it, is the question of the decade. I'm far less optimistic about either outcome than I was only a few years ago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The sense I picked up from that article is China is in the process of dissolving into semi-autonomous provinces ruled by thugs. The party does not rule the whole country, and has not for some time.

So is that area opf rule shrinking, or has it found a balance of sorts?