The legitimacy and confidence of any government shows best when the critics come out. And the leadership in China is showing how insecure they are.
Keith Richburg reports from Beijing that the calls for demonstrations around China for a “jasmine revolution” have seriously spooked the authorities. (Chinese police face down Middle East-style protests)
The deployment of water cannons and extra security around the target demonstration areas in Beijing and Shanghai showed how fearful the authorities are of the Chinese people standing up against the corruption and lack of transparency that exists in the Chinese government and ruling party.
As long as I can remember — and we are going back at least 25 years — the Chinese Communist Party claims to have been waging a war against corruption. They make pronouncements of how they are removing corrupt and leaders and the government arrests a handful of corrupt local politicians. But when it get too close to the ruling class at Zhongnanhai, the accusers are arrested or harassed.
The current wave of discontent — that seems energized by what is happening in North Africa — includes the growing middle class in China. This middle class sees their path to a better life blocked by corruption and arbitrary government policy seemingly answerable to no one. These are the same complaints of many in the Arab uprisings. So now more Chinese seem to be looking to North Africa as an inspiration.
And that is why the terms “jasmine,” “Egypt,” and “Libya” are being blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
Clearly it is the growing access to ideas and information that scares the Chinese leadership the most. Yet, at the same time, they say that for China to progress to the next level of development, the restrictions on the exchange of data and news has to change.
Remember this interview: (Well if you are in China, you can’t see it.)
CNN/Fareed Zakaria interview with Premier Wen: