Uprisings Everywhere

Uprisings Everywhere


I don’t have much commentary to add to this New York Times article on the riots in Panlong village, China. The end of the article pretty much sums up China in a nutshell:

“We have many special zones in this area, and each of them attracts investment,” said a villager who was interviewed by telephone and gave his name as Hou. “The economic deals set in the past were not favorable, and many zones here have had smaller protests before, but the people were not united.”

“Now,” he added, “there are uprisings everywhere.”

Uprisings everywhere, indeed. 2006 is shaping up to be a pivotal year. The Iranian crisis might create unexpected wrinkles beyond the Gulf region. China’s stance on Iran, should things come to a head, will be very revealing. China and Iran are in negotiations for a gigantic oil and gas deal. If it succeeds, it would be Iran’s biggest foreign contract.

China’s problems are many, but staying ahead of them seems possible only as long as their economy continues to expand. Their bid for Persian energy is part of a survival strategy for the regime. In our small world, rioting villagers in Panlong and uranium enrichment in Natanz walk the same tightrope.

In both Iran and China, the actions of the regimes seem to be increasingly at odds with the will of the citizens. There’s one thing about history’s poker table: it’s never obvious who’s going to unexpectedly fold. It could be that the biggest story to come out of these two countries will be how oppressed countrymen reclaimed their dignity and freedom from despots. Here’s hoping.

  • Antiquated Tory

    Good Lord, Cicero, where to begin?
    1. A sharp economic downturn and massive unrest may not lead to the Chinese people ‘reclaiming their freedom and dignity.’ Historically in China it has lead to the collapse of central authority and its replacement with smaller states fighting over the remnants, which in turn leads to lots of dead peasants. A Chinese friend of mine with an interest in history believes this is a cycle driven by 2000 years of overpopulation; once the population has dropped to a maintainable level, a sufficiently competent smaller unit can rise to claim the mandate of heaven.
    2. The President of Iran is a populist. This means his appeal is to the masses. He might not be popular with the educated urban middle class (one joke popular among this class: Q: Why does the President part his hair in the middle? A: To keep the male and female fleas separate.) but don’t think that this means he isn’t popular with the country as a whole. He did win an election, even if the most popular option was “This election is meaningless and I’m staying home.” Furthermore, building an A-bomb has been popular across a large cross-section of Iranians for some time now. A ‘democratic,’ ‘reform’ government is quite likely to go nuclear, although of course it would be less of a threat once so armed.