China: Avoiding The Next Revolution

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June 28, 2012:  The government has had reports issued denying American and Japanese studies of the rapid expansion of Chinese military power in the last decade. The Chinese reports were issued in Chinese, English, and Japanese. China's official line is that their armed forces are only for defense and are growing at a far more modest rate than foreign analysts are claiming. The Chinese are having a hard time refuting the foreign analysts, given the availability of satellite photos and many cell phone images of new Chinese weapons. China tries to control this sort of information leak but has been unable to do so.

Another problem for China is the fact that internal propaganda campaigns cannot be kept secret from the outside world. This was never possible, but even with a heavily censored Chinese Internet, such embarrassing news quickly gets to an international audience very quickly. The latest example of this is remarks by Chinese officials about the "Great Wall of China." The new claims are that the wall was larger than its current official size and incorporates parts of North Korea. This was alarming news in South Korea, which is preparing to take over North Korea when the communist dictatorship up there collapses. The collapse is expected soon. With this new "Great Wall" argument, the Chinese are announcing that if the North Korean government losses control China will reclaim some "lost provinces" and the foreigners (including South Korea, Japan, and the United States) had better stay out of it.

Another vulnerability of the Chinese thought control program is the growing number of Chinese tourists and business visitors going overseas. The number of visitors to the United States, for example, has increased five times in the last eight years, to over a million a year. Many more visit Asian countries and Europe. In all these places Chinese can pick up news and ideas that are officially forbidden back home.

Despite increased censorship on the Chinese version of twitter (microblogs), Chinese continue to discuss forbidden subjects (mainly about corruption at the top and Chinese who openly protest the corruption and bad government). Internet researchers have found ways to capture copies of offending mincroblog posts before the government sensors do (and delete them). This kind of research has also revealed that the Chinese censors are not really going after individual offenders as much as they are seeking to prevent mass unrest from being ignited. Thus, sometimes, even the arrest and punishment of Internet offenders is not publicized, lest this get a mass protest movement going. China has a growing problem with large groups of people hitting the streets to protest in the flesh. With the large amount of government corruption and inefficiency, there's a lot to protest. The Internet is seen as essential economically but also the chief means of local protests turning into major ones. That is not to be allowed, at all costs.

Although many of the post-Cold War East European arms smugglers have been put out of business, there are still major gunrunners serving anyone who can pay. The major operators are Ukraine and China. The worst offender is China, which has long allowed its arms manufacturers to sell to just about anyone. That policy has not changed and business is better than ever with all those East Europeans, and their cheap Cold War surplus, out of action.

South Korean police have arrested several locals and charged them with stealing billions of dollars of technical secrets and passing the stuff on to Chinese firms. In this case, Taiwanese firms were also involved in obtaining some of the stolen tech.

In western China (Xinjiang province), Uighurs (ethnic Turks from Xinjiang province) are under increasing pressure from Han Chinese soldiers and police. Too many Uighurs continue to support anti-Han activity. Chinese officials have been publicly urging soldiers and police to be more aggressive against uncooperative Uighurs. The government tries hard to suppress the news of Uighurs unrest. The government has been at this for a long time, constantly shutting down web sites that promote Uighur autonomy and other Uighur matters. The government accuses Uighur activists of endangering state security. This is part of an ongoing effort to suppress Uighur unhappiness with the growing number of Han Chinese moving to traditionally Uighur areas and taking over the economy and most of the good jobs. The same thing is happening in Tibet, where the government is using the same tools to keep everyone under control.

June 26, 2012: Chinese border guards have been ordered to force Kachin tribal refugees (from the fighting in Burma) out of China. Some Kachin who are already in China are being forcibly returned to Burma. China is unhappy with the increased production of drugs (methamphetamine, opium, and heroin) in northern Burma and the export of a lot of it into China. While meth and heroin are relatively recent developments, the Chinese have been fighting opium smugglers in this area since the 17th century.

June 22, 2012:  A UN investigation of illegal movement of goods into North Korea found that these efforts involved cooperation with China 55 percent of the time. This was long suspected, just from widely available evidence. But the UN study goes into more detail about how North Korea has violated the growing list of UN trade sanctions. The UN report also documents China exporting items for North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. China denies any involvement in breaking UN embargoes.  

June 21, 2012:  The government has introduced new rules which compel senior military officers to disclose their personal financial details. Corruption in the military has been a problem in China for thousands of years. The communists thought they had cured it but after they took control of China in the late 1940s, the rot began to reappear. There have been several major efforts since then to keep the corruption from getting out of hand (and doing serious damage to combat capabilities). This latest public anti-corruption effort is an indicator that the government believes the generals and admirals are a little too corrupt.

June 20, 2012: Facing difficulty recruiting pilots, the Chinese Air Force has loosened restrictions on tattoos. Previously, tattoos would bar men from flight training. But tattoos are increasingly popular and the air force saw a lot of good pilot prospects being lost because of some ink.

June 16, 2012: China launched three people into orbit, including the first Chinese woman to go into space. The three will be in orbit for 13 days and will conduct the first docking exercise with an unmanned Chinese space capsule already in orbit. China carried out its first manned launch nine years ago, and this is the first one since 2008.

 

 

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