China: March 21, 2002


Army troops have been sent to seal off the northeast town of Daquing, where more than 50,000 people have demonstrated against economic conditions (mainly lack of jobs.) Since the 1980s, China's national and provincial governments have been under increasing pressure to close money losing state owned businesses. Economic liberalization was allowed in the late 1970s because it was obvious that the communist economic model was not working and China would slide deeper into poverty and military impotence if the economy were not revived. But the state owned operations the most resistant to change were the large facilities that were self contained (providing social amenities like housing, health care and education as well as jobs). Even though these large, inefficient and money losing operations required increasing amounts of cash to keep them going, the fear of civil unrest from their thousands of workers kept the government from shutting them down. But the losses have increased to the point that the banking system is threatened with collapse, so the money losing plants have to be shut down. The growing market economy is not able to create enough new jobs to absorb to the newly unemployed state workers. Demonstrations by unemployed workers increases. The communist government is caught short by it's own propaganda, which for decades boasted that the communist state would always take care of the people. This is not happening and a lot of the people are angry. The rampant corruption among communist party officials is not helping. 


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