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Ryan Mauro February 29, 2012
There is good news for Chinese activists striving for democracy, the country’s oppressed religious minorities and those fearful of Communist China’s rise. The number of anti-government protests is rising and top experts expect the arrival of a democratic China, with one, Gordon Chang, even predicting the fall of the ruling Communist Party this year.
The signs of a forthcoming Chinese Spring began surfacing immediately after the Arab Spring began in Tunisia early last year. Over 100 activists were arrested or put on house arrest in a single sweep. Security was out in force and a huge amount of text messages and websites were blocked. Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution made the government so anxious that it even blocked the word “jasmine” from being searched on social networking websites. Hundreds still assembled in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere to peacefully express their desire for change.
In July, there were riots in Guizhou Province after a peddler with only one leg was killed, allegedly by government personnel. The incident brought attention to the unrest in the province that locals said is common but unreported. One resident wrote online, “In truth, China experiences riots worse than those in England every single week.”
The situation is so sensitive that on August 12, a disagreement between a police officer enforcing a parking regulation, turned into a major confrontation. Protests began the next day in front of a government building, followed by clashes and riots that involved the burning and overturning of vehicles. The state media reported that 10 rioters were arrested and 10 police officers were injured.
In September, the small village of Wukan was in an uproar after local officials sold farmland without the residents’ permission. The locals petitioned the government and demanded meetings with officials to discuss the matter and were dismissed. Hundreds soon rioted and set up homemade barriers to keep the security forces from dispersing them. The protests escalated in December, with villagers arming themselves with farming tools and claiming that food and water to the area was being blocked. The mayor pledged to punish anyone challenging the government but promised to investigate the issue and suspended one controversial farmland program.
These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. There were about 280,000 such “mass incidents” in China last year. Instead of trying to appease the population, the government has resorted to a 20-year high in persecution. And there is every reason to believe that 2012 will bring even more internal turmoil to the country.
A new World Bank report, titled “China 2030,” warns that the country will face an economic crisis if there are not sweeping free market reforms. China’s economic growth is projected to slow to 8% this year and fall to 6.6% between 2013 and 2016. Gordon Chang says that the country’s factories are becoming less and less competitive as wages increase and that the failure of the international community to confront China over its violation of trade agreements has extended the Communist Party’s lease on life.
In his book, "The Next 100 Years," George Friedman of the Stratfor intelligence firm predicts the fragmentation of China around 2020. He argues that the various regions of the country are like different countries. There is a huge disconnect between the prosperous coastal areas and the inland territory where 1.1 of the 1.3 billion people reside with a standard of living comparable to that of Nigeria.
Friedman is dismissive of the oft-repeated prediction that China will overtake the U.S. as a superpower. His assessment is that China is held hostage to the U.S. because of its dependency upon exports, even though the conventional wisdom that the U.S. is held hostage to China because of debt. “When the United States catches [a] cold, China gets pneumonia,” Friedman says.
In their Lincoln-Douglas-style debate on foreign policy, presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman, the former ambassador to China, also had positive outlooks. Gingrich mentioned a study showing that it will be less expensive to manufacture in South Carolina and Alabama than in China by 2015. Huntsman said that there are 500 million Internet users and 80 million bloggers in China, steadily weakening the grip of the government.
In addition, China’s population is quickly aging and due to its infamous one child policy, is having more deaths than births. In a video commentary earlier this month, political analyst Dick Morris explained that the U.S. is the only major industrialized country with a growing population. About 13.5% of its population is over 65 and that will increase to about 15% in 20 years. China, on the other hand, will be up to about 24%.
And finally, there is an explosive growth of Christianity in China, further undermining the power of the Communist Party. The internal challenges facing the Communist Party are especially beneficial to those belonging to the underground church. The Voice of the Martyrs writes that, “Christians in China have persevered under what may have been the harshest and most widespread persecution of the Church in all history. More Christians have been and continue to be detained in China than in any other country.”
And there’s no sign of the government stopping it voluntarily. Just this month, the Chinese government denied a visa to the U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom, Dr. Suzan Johnson-Cook.
It’s been stated so often that China will eclipse the U.S. by mid-century that it’s almost become accepted as fact. A Chinese Spring ushering in democracy seems unthinkable but it took only one angry Tunisian to start the Arab Spring and sweep away four dictators. Yet change can only be real change when a nation decides to throw off the shackles of oppression, as are evident under radical Islam’s Shariah law and Communism, in favor of the freedom and autonomy that comes with properly restrained democratic governance. Furthermore, a Chinese Spring would not be hijacked by Islamists.
Ryan Mauro is a frequent national security analyst for Fox News. He is a fellow at RadicalIslam.org and founder of WorldThreats.com.
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