China: Can You Hear Me?


October 30, 2007: The recent Chinese Party Congress allowed the various factions in the ruling Communist Party rearrange who has control of what. It's basically the hard core (who want to keep the police state going) versus the democrats (who see democracy as the only way to prevent another revolution.) The hard core crowd is still in control, but the democrats are increasingly recognized as an acceptable alternative. That made be needed soon. The number of major demonstrations or riots per million people per week, is moving from one to two. Many of these outbursts are the result of corruption among local officials, including the police. This misbehavior also makes it increasingly difficult to collect taxes. Forcing the issue with corrupt provincial officials risks resistance, which could escalate into rebellion. The problem is particularly acute in western and central China, where half the population lives. This is the poorest half, misruled by the most corrupt officials. One reason for upgrading the military is to make it possible to attack rebellious factions while using a minimum number of troops. China has a long history of troops changing sides when ordered to attack their own people. Didn't happen all that often, but the Internet and all those cell phones have changed things. People are more connected to each other. This information access has made Chinese people more aware of the rest of the world, how it operates, and how China ranks. The problem is that, while the Chinese economy continues to grow at ten percent a year, the Chinese people are still ruled by a self-appointed dictatorship. For many Chinese, that's tolerable, but the growing corruption among the ruling class is not. In other words, can the Communist Party reform itself before it causes another revolution? The communists are certainly aware of the risk, especially because of what happened in Eastern Europe and Russia in the late 1980s. Chinese leaders are in uncharted territory, and unsure what their future will be, or even what their chances of success, or survival, are.

October 28, 2007: Taiwan is now manufacturing cruise missiles with ranges of 600 to 1,500 kilometers. The government is denying that it is developing nuclear warheads for these missiles. Nukes would be the only weapon that could give China pause, if it was determined to take Taiwan by force. Taiwan has the financial and technical ability to build nuclear weapons, but would probably not announce such an effort, lest it trigger an immediate attack by China. Just another thing for the Chinese leadership to worry about.

October 27, 2007: The recent scandal over tainted food and toy exports has caused a backlash within China itself. Despite government efforts to keep the growing food contamination and general environmental pollution scandals quiet, the word gets out. With over 400 million cell phone, and over 150 million Internet users, the news spreads, if it's bad enough. In this case, stories of birth defects and food poisoning have alarmed many Chinese, and put pressure on the government to "do something." So over 700 people were recently arrested for producing sub-standard goods (particularly food), and promises were made to clean up large scale pollution. These are largely cosmetic moves, and most Chinese realize it. But it calms enough people to reduce the risk of a general uprising.

October 26, 2007: Some 10,000 troops and a thousand vehicles are in Central China for several days of wargames. Very special wargames. The army is testing its electronic warfare equipment. Jammers and equipment that is supposed to be resistant to jamming, will be used in the open, as if in a combat zone. The effects of jamming, and other electronic warfare gear, on Chinese and foreign radio equipment will be tested.

October 24, 2007: A lunar mapping satellite was launched, the first phase of a program to put Chinese on the moon within 13 years.

October 22, 2007: Each month, thousands of Chinese are moving to Africa. They are going to work for their government, on economic development or air projects. Increasingly, they are going to set up their own businesses. Lots of opportunity in Africa. But the "outsiders" have to beware of backlash from the locals.




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