China Weekly Brief
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February 12, 2011 - February 18, 2011

Political and Internal Development

Some recently published articles in Chinese media explicitly designate the rationale behind ongoing legal reforms in the country as to transform people’s behaviour and to inculcate faith on Chinese law and judicial system in the hearts of each member of the society. In the name of building fair, efficient and authoritative judicial system China has been trying to safeguard top-down system and party’s undisputable role as the only stake holder of the state power. It is perceived that the underline message is to ensure smooth rise of China where people have to follow state imposed pattern of behaviour. The people’s voice would be heard and their claim for justice would be satisfactorily met if they act like mature citizens.

In a long article in the People’s Daily, one author elaborately discusses rationalistic view of current social justice issues. The author in fact puts forward a definition of social justice according to which, social justice is about whether or not a member of the society has “consensus of opinion” on a certain value assessment. The essence of the social justice is reasonable distribution of economic, social and cultural rights among the members of the society. Here everybody should bear reasonable share of social responsibility so that all members of the society get as they deserve. This is completely different from the Western concept of social justice which attaches great importance to equal distribution of rights. The author believes that the main violators of this social justice norm in the contemporary China are strikingly rich people of the society, corrupt officials and bragging rightists. The publication of these propagandist writings coincides with anti-regime protests by the peoples of several Middle East countries over the last few weeks.

In order to maintain firm control over public opinion, the government has imposed more stringent internet censorship on reporting on unrests in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and other Arab countries. Anti-regime demonstrations in these countries are thought to be a spill over effect of public outbursts in Tunisia which began in December 2010, popularly known as Jasmin Revolution. It appears that the tide of Jasmin Revolution has somehow sipped into China’s virtual society and possibly captured the imagination of Chinese netizens for making Chinese Jasmin Revolution. Northern Carolina based overseas Chinese website Boxun News reported that on February 19 the Chinese netizens through various social networking websites announced thirteen different locations across the country for carrying out anti-government protests in the afternoon of the following day. Boxun News later reported that their video website was interestingly disabled by anonymous hackers on Sunday.

There are reports that in some specific locations of Beijing and Shanghai people did assemble, but police and security personnel, who had already taken measures to avert any unpleasant situations to occur in big cities across the country, immediately dispersed the crowd. It appears that police and foreign reporters outnumbered the participants and passers-by. The Hong Kong democrats however demonstrated against one party communist rule in China and called for Jasmin Revolution. In order to defuse any possible demonstrations and gatherings, police has indiscriminately arrested and detained some prominent rightist lawyers and intellectuals from Beijing and other places.

It is impossible to know about the people who had spread the news of demonstrations in some specific places. There is a rumor that Wang Dan, the prominent student leader of the Tiananmen Square Movement tried to orchestrate the so-called Chinese Jasmin Revolution. Wang Dan’s involvement though questionable, but connection with Hong Kong democratic parties can be inferred. According to a Hong Kong media report, Wang Dan wrote in his facebook that whatever happened in China this time is an indication that the Communist Party of China is scared of any large scale public protest and demonstration.

Foreign Policy/Foreign Relations

Since the beginning of the anti-regime demonstrations in the Middle East, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on several occasions expressed that a quick restoration of political stability and social order would bring back normal economic life in these countries which are already suffering from economic backwardness. Return to normalcy in these countries would at the same time stop the spread of public upsurge in other countries. During his visit to the UAE on February 10, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi expressed the same view to the Egyptian Foreign Minister over a telephonic talk. Yang told his Egyptian counterpart that China was keenly observing the development in the country and urged that there should not be any external interference and Egypt alone should determine the course of its development independently. He also conveyed the message that China has full confidence that Egypt has enough wisdom to overcome the present crisis and take the country in the path of stability and development. The close interaction with a cabinet minister of Mubarak during the nation wide protests against the president suggests that China is pretty confident that any change of regime would not have any impact in its relations with Egypt. There is a firm belief that declining US strategic influence in the Middle East would allow China to cast permanent foot prints in the region.

Chinese media and area study experts have been trying to delve the root cause of sudden change of political atmosphere in Tunisia, which is considered as the origin of anti-establishment upheaval in so many other countries. Ever since its independence, this former French colony of North Africa, according to an article published in Chinese Muslim Youth website, followed the Western path of development and ostensibly fulfilled the expectation of the West that it would emerge as a model for the future Islamic countries of the world. The article also pointed out that so far Tunisia enjoyed the reputation of being the most secure country and also one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. Prof. Wang Suolao, a Middle East expert of international studies department at University of Beijing, pointed out that growing unemployment rate, impact of international financial crisis and rampant corruption among higher officials are the immediate cause of Tunisian problem.

A news report in The Global Times points out that even if democracy is introduced in Egypt, survival of the future regime would depend on various other factors. According to the report, the first test that Egypt would face will be to see whether Mubarak’s domestic and foreign policy based on rationalism becomes the national polices in a democratic way. It further opines that the middle class in the country is too weak to support and sustain a stable democratic government.

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