Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Factors In China that Parallel Causes for Unrest in Middle East

Objectively speaking there are many comparable factors between conditions for ordinary people under China’s authoritarian regime and the causes for the current political unrest in the Middle East.

China like Egypt is a society lacking in social justice.  Official corruption is pervasive and growing among the political-business elite.  The gap between rich and poor widens at an alarming rate.  Food prices, especially the price of grain are suddenly going up by double-digit rates causing significant discontent.  Young people have serious frustration over the lack of jobs for university graduates.  The cost of housing has become so high that it is very difficult for young couples to find an affordable place to live which makes it hard to marry and start a family.  People lack civil freedoms in China and Egypt.  Both are police states.  Both censor the internet and harass political dissidents ignoring the niceties of rule of law.

The main difference is that China has no viable political alternative to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party available waiting in the wings.  Egypt on the other hand has a  well-organized and hopefully religiously moderate alternative in the Muslim Brotherhood.  The Brotherhood offers promise of a an less corrupt and transparent political alternative that will extend more social welfare to people in need.

The Chinese press has reported on the current disorder in Egypt and on the Chinese government’s measures to evacuate its nationals to safety.  But has not reported on the reasons for hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets demanding that the current leader step down.

Peaceful political protest in a main square of a capital that has gained sympathy from elements within the police and army that may end in violence and army tanks still puts a chill into the hearts of China’s leadership.  The Egyptian calls for Mubarek to resign resonate with similar calls from Tian’anmen in June 1989.

But it is the eve of the Year of the Rabbit today.  This is no time for civil protest.  Let us celebrate the festival together with our families and leave politics to another day.  Happy Rabbit Year everybody!

My related interview with Chinese Service of Radio Canada International on situation in Egypt broadcast February 2, 2011:

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