For flow of words in 'black and white' and their visual counterparts, China of the day is darling of the world, especially of analysts, ranging from geopolitical to economic to media squads. Still, the share of the bad news and the percentage of the good news out of the country stoically maintain the balance skewed in favour of the former.
Minus the economic miracle, China of June 4, 2012 is not much different from the China of June 4, 1989, but, this economic miracle has written certain scripts that let us have some good news out of the middle kingdom. (According to the universal definition of the good news and not the Chinese version.)
And these ‘in short supply’ good scripts have the potential to change the way China of the future would be known.
The Tiananmen Day is the most relevant day when the democracy conscious and pro-human thoughts try to reflect on China of the day in context of the Tiananmen Square protests that engulfed many parts of the country in 1989. (It is said historical sites of protests like Tiananmen represent a symbolism that mystifies, empowers and transforms the thoughts. I would certainly like to feel it during my trip to the Middle Kingdom.)
Another June 4 - the similar story
But for the moment, the state oppression and control is almost on the similar lines.
Before Tiananmen happened, the ‘then China’ had experiments that allowed people to dream of and demand for democracy that ultimately became the nemesis of the thousands of the protesters.
Protesters could not understand the double-speak and the meaning of democracy as being promoted by the then ruling Chinese communists.
Circa 2012: Certain sections or some leaders, most prominent being the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, are again advocating to extend the ‘extended democracy’ to the masses. Protests are building up. Crackdowns are happening. But number of protesters is going up. Wukan has happened. Chen Guancheng’s dramatic flight/journey from the house arrest in China to the US just happened.
Are the Chinese yet again misreading the feelers sent by the power elite or this is a different ball-game this time?
Are we staring at yet another Tiananmen in the near future?
Just a thought of it sends shivers down the spine but then nothing can be predicted about dictators and China of the day is still nothing more but a dictatorial regime with many monster heads at the helms of the affairs.
Tiananmen makes Chinese power elite nervous. Every ‘June 4’ witnesses heightened activity by the administration to send the message that the protests are not to be tolerated and Tiananmen was an aberration in the Chinese society. This year, too, was the same story.
The crackdown happened. Activists were detained before June 4. Online communication was heavily censored with major key-words blocked. Traditional media had no mention of it. The propaganda machinery worked on its annual exercise of countering international reports of human rights abuse in China. This year, too, China furiously showed its strong dissatisfaction on the US appeal of releasing the incarcerated activists of the 1989 protests.
The good scripts and the muddled elements
Then in 1989, it was all about bad news from China. In 2012, it is also about the small share of the good news.
The economic miracle has created a huge middle class in China that is urban and uses technological sophistication. China is world’s largest telecom and internet market in terms of subscribers. China’s factory system of yore is gone that so tightly controlled even the individual lives.
Today’s China is highly entangled with stakes in the global economic system. Opening up of the economy is the only factor that has brought China such riches and the ruling elite cannot survive the massive uprising by over a billion if the masses are forced to go back to the factory days of the yore.
It is said the only option before China of the day is the road to political reforms. Already, the economy is slowing down. Salaries are going up and China’s manufacturing is losing its cost advantage. Factories are closing down. Unemployment is increasing. China is trying hard now to reduce migration of workers from rural to urban centers. The rural pockets that do not matter much in terms of anti-state hostility might well prove a socially agitated lot if the widening social disparity in China is not addressed.
The mammoth internet presence makes it hard for the Chinese government to effectively block the online communication. We, in the international community, are aware of almost all the major crackdown events in the recent Chinese history like arrests of Liu Xiaobo, Ai Weiwei, and other dissidents, Wukan, Chen Guancheng and countless Tibetan self-immolations.
2012 is an important year for China. The country is scheduled to have its leadership transition this year. With Bo Xilai episode and rumours of wedge between PLA (People's Liberation Army) and CPC (Communist Party of China), coupled with the slowing economy, increasing social disparity, and a large aspiring middle class, the state of affairs looks muddled for the Middle Kingdom.
How the China of the day deals with the ‘signs of the time’ now will tell if the Chinese people are staring at yet another ‘Tiananmen’ in making.