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Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Empire of Lies

A great piece by Guy Sorman, French author and China observer.

Some additional notes from The Middle Stage blog:

Here are some other contributions to the debate on modern China: "New China, New Crisis", an extract from Will Hutton's new book on China The Writing on the Wall; "Does the future really belong to China?", a debate between Hutton and the economist Meghnad Desai; "The Dark Side of China's Rise" by Minxin Pei, "Getting Rich" by Pankaj Mishra; "The Great Leap: Scenes from China's Industrial Revolution" by Bill McKibben; and "Unmasking the Man with the Wooden Face", a piece by Willy Wo-lap Lam on the Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The twenty-first century will not belong to China.

Excerpt:

City Journal: The Empire of Lies by Guy Sorman - But China’s success is, at least in part, a mirage. True, 200 million of her subjects, fortunate to be working for an expanding global market, increasingly enjoy a middle-class standard of living. The remaining 1 billion, however, remain among the poorest and most exploited people in the world, lacking even minimal rights and public services. Popular discontent simmers, especially in the countryside, where it often flares into violent confrontation with Communist Party authorities. China’s economic “miracle” is rotting from within…

In general, however, and especially outside Beijing, the Party ruthlessly polices non-sanctioned religious movements, haunted by the memory of past Chinese dynasties overthrown by mystical upsurges. The authorities have decimated Falun Gong, a Buddhist sect whose master lives in exile in the U.S. The group’s members languish in prison or in reeducation centers…

Today’s dissidents and their compatriots don’t seem very threatening. None promotes the overthrow of the government. They aren’t comparable to Chinese dissidents in exile, such as Wuer Kaixi, leader of the 1989 Tiananmen revolt, or Wei Jinsheng, hero of the 1979 Democracy Wall, political men with no following left in China. So why does the Party expend so much time and energy trying to keep them in check? Because it recognizes that their activity, however limited in scope and seemingly harmless, is a sign of the desire for freedom and truth among the people—a desire that ultimately threatens the leadership’s future…(more)

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