Thursday, January 21, 2010

China Aggregation

Here’s two intriguing pieces on China:

Here, The First:
Democracy is the outcome most Westerners prefer, in the hope that China’s policies in Tibet and Xinjiang might soften, human rights improve, and cooperation with the West increase in fields like the environment, public health, and global trade and finance. But democratization could also make China’s policies more nationalistic, both vis-à-vis its internal minorities and toward outside powers like Japan and the West. The implications of a Chinese political collapse for the outside world would likewise be mixed, but in many ways negative. An economic downturn would ensue. Ethnic breakaway movements would surge. Cross-border environmental, refugee, public-health and crime issues would move to the forefront. A military regime, if one took power, would be more assertive about territorial disputes. Of one thing we can be sure: a Soviet-style breakup is not in the cards, for the national minorities in China constitute only 6 or 7 percent of the population and lack the demographic clout or institutional separateness required to set themselves free.

And, the second:
Google’s clash with China is about much more than the fate of a single, powerful firm. The company’s decision to pull out of China, unless the government there changes its policies on censorship, is a harbinger of increasingly stormy relations between the US and China.

The reason that the Google case is so significant is because it suggests that the assumptions on which US policy to China have been based since the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 could be plain wrong. The US has accepted – even welcomed – China’s emergence as a giant economic power because American policymakers convinced themselves that economic opening would lead to political liberalisation in China.

So far, the facts are refusing to conform to the theory. China has continued to censor new and old media, but this has hardly condemned it to “dismal economic failure”. On the contrary, China is now the world’s second largest economy and its largest exporter, with foreign reserves above $2,000bn. But all this economic growth shows little sign of provoking the political changes anticipated by Bush and Clinton. If anything, the Chinese government seems to be getting more repressive. Liu Xiaobo, a leading Chinese dissident, was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison for his involvement in the Charter 08 movement that advocates democratic reforms.

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