Obviously the Chinese authorities are nervous. They are nervous about the perhaps unlikely repeat of a Chinese version of the Jasmine Revolution which has thrown out autocratic regimes in Egypt and Tunisia and may yet succeed in Libya. The Chinese government’s reaction has been to invoke strong internet censorship against the anonymous calls for protest in cities across China. The measures that the security forces have been asked to take to crack down on protestors and the restrictions the authorities have imposed on foreign journalists indicate how nervous they are.
As far as we know, these calls for protests have been unsuccessful. Analysts conclude that the protests did not gain further momentum because of the miraculous success that China has achieved in expanding its economy in the last three decades, and this may be true. But the conclusion that people prefer political stability for economic growth and prosperity at the cost of freedom is a bogus hypothesis.
Indeed, unrest will not bring economic prosperity, but the Chinese authorities are so anxious that they have come out with state-sponsored propaganda to brainwash their own people. An illustration of this would be the recent article appearing in Xinhua entitled “Unrest will not bring social equality.”
The article begins with the statement of an anonymous Chinese who declares that “They are making much ado about nothing!” It tries to counter the foreign media with the statement that “Perhaps they are disappointed at the lack of revolutionary momentum in China.”
The article pretends that the Chinese authorities are open to criticism. In a country where the media is strictly controlled by the government, scanners vigilantly scrutinize the internet, and so-called dissidents are immediately imprisoned, needless to say this pretext is incongruous.
The article proceeds to report on the actions taken by the authorities to balance economic growth so that all sections of society will benefit from it. But the intent behind this propaganda is squashed by the additional privileges enjoyed by, and accumulated wealth possessed by, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, the leadership of the Chinese government and its provincial governments, and the generals of the People’s Liberation Army, as compared with the common Chinese.
Regarding these economic inequities, people are aware of the facts and may be silent for a while. But as with any rapidly expanding economy, there will come a time when growth stabilizes as an economic inevitability, and further faster growth becomes impossible.
This applies to the economies of the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, and China will be no exception. At that point, the human will for undeniable freedom will burst out in a quest to replace the existing regime.
This is for the same reason that the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are nervous, in spite of the living standards that the people of these countries enjoy. For those people, economic prosperity has been achieved, but it is at a standstill, and now they need freedom. The administrations of theses countries are on par with their Chinese counterparts in propaganda and censorship. But to posit that life with prosperity undermines the will to puruse the fruits of freedom is irrational.
The article contains a peculiar argument. It states that people of the author’s generation have seen much more chaos than what we are seeing in the Middle East today, and cites the Cultural Revolution as an example. The author wishes that those who were the witnesses to that Revolution would never like to see it happen again.
But in his aspiration to be a propagandist, the author here fires a boomerang. The Cultural Revolution was a state-sponsored movement masterminded by Mao Zedong the cost of which is that the great Chinese tradition was marginalized, millions were persecuted, and hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were lost. It was an economic, social, and human catastrophe, born out of a Utopian mindset which evolved in a lunatic psyche.
That the Chinese no longer want another Cultural Revolution is an indiciation that they hate in their subconscious the intervention of the state in their daily lives. Despite all the economic achievements, and besides all that propaganda can do, when this conscience is going to explode is only a question of time.