Friday, March 03, 2006

The slow walk to democracy?

Is technology precipitating the eventual arrival of democracy in China? Article in the Guardian a week or so a go (can't find it now) points out that there is growing dissent in China not seen since the 80’s, fuelled by the Internet. Although the authorities are assiduously - shamefully with the help of American search engines - trying to block out dissenting voices, they will continue to get through. Technology cannot be tamed and curtailed indefinitely. It helped play a role in the undermining of the USSR political system and will likely do the same to the Chinese Politburo over time.

Articles such as this give thought to democracy, when, not if. With Chinas economy continuing to grow at a substantial rate, with it likely to be the most powerful country in the world in the 20/30 years time, it would be better for us all if Democracy popped its head through to say, evenin’.

Does increased personal wealth plus burgeoning technology (Internet), which leads to freer dissemination of information (dissent, protest etc) equal the eventuality of democratic process, even if 20 years or more away? Or are there other cultural factors that may negate a desire to change the status quo?

Well, the Chinese govt. is trying to divert discontentment (particularly among the youth) into nationalism, helped by China's rising status in the world and worsening relations with Japan. This will probably work for a time, but I reckon the real threat to CCP rule will come from an middle class and rural Chinese fed up with corruption and abuse of property rights (land seizures, etc). All the pressure for change has to come from inside, and at the moment there doesn't seem to be any kind of cohesive movement that will achieve a democratic transition. So, I think it will come, but not soon.
Incidentally, found a very interesting post at Blood and Treasure on land rights and abuses of power by local govt. officials:

In fact, the blog is generally very good on China info.
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