China: A Police State Triumph

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September 2, 2008:Chinese oil consumption (most of it imported) continues to rise, to 7.4 million barrels a day (global demand is over 80 million barrels a day, the U.S. accounts for a quarter of that). The government controls fuel prices, and raised them over the Summer. This did not reduce demand as much as expected. Oil use has largely kept pace with annual increases in economic activity (10 percent a year for nearly two decades), and that has been a major factor in the world price of oil more than tripling in the last decade. But this has made China more dependent on sea routes to the Persian Gulf and Africa (where China gets most of its oil). Thus the growing interest in expanding the size of the fleet. China is no longer a self-sufficient "continental" power, as it had been for thousands of years. Now China is dependent on international trade to keep its economy going.

As the U.S. has cracked down on terrorists using the international banking system. In response, the terrorists have sought out countries that would allow their banks to deal with terrorists, and are immune to pressure from the United States. Chinese banks have thus become the favorite of international terrorist organizations, at least those that do not operate in China, or are hostile to China.

China is pressuring Pakistan to crack down on Islamic radicals. Not because China is particularly down on Islamic radicals, but because two more Chinese workers (engineers) have been kidnapped in Pakistan. The Islamic radicals there (Taliban and al Qaeda) are opposed to change in general, and foreign investment in particular. China is a major ally and arms supplier for Pakistan. In the past, Pakistan has gone to great lengths to rescue Chinese citizens kidnapped by Islamic radicals.

September 1, 2008:The Chinese government believes online games are a threat. Some 40 million Chinese teenagers play these games, often for more than eight hours a day. The government believes that at least four million of these players have suffered long term damage. The games are believed to have a bad effect on education and job performance. The government also believes that the content in some of the games leads to anti-social activity. So the government is setting up a censor board for online games, and will try to impose limits on long teenagers (mostly males) can play the games.

August 31, 2008:China's "underground mass media" (cell phones and the Internet) are buzzing about the trial of a Shanghai man (Jia Yang) who knifed six policemen to death. The government trial was supposed to just find this "deranged mass murder" guilty and execute him. But the story coming out from citizen investigators has seized the public imagination. The killer was apparently the victim of police corruption, and he killed the six cops in revenge. That's something most Chinese can identify with, as there is widespread police corruption. The government is trying to suppress discussions of the Yang case on the Internet, but that just encourages more people to find out what is going on. The government fears large scale demonstrations, and maybe even violence, against the police.

August 30, 2008:In Taiwan, pro-independence groups are staging large (over 40,000 people) demonstrations to protest the newly elected Taiwanese presidents push for closer relations with China.

August 29, 2008:Unrest continues in western China, where local Moslem Turks (Uighurs) clashed with police. Some two dozen Uighurs were arrested, and to policemen were killed.

August 25, 2008:China succeeded in preventing the Olympics from becoming a source of embarrassing political demonstrations. Dissent was suppressed and foreign journalists were kept from producing a large amounts of anti-government reporting.

 

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