Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sire, the Peasants are Revolting

China is experiencing some more unrest, this time in a protest over a polluting factory:

After the initial melee with police, thousands of demonstrators torched police cars and broke into government offices, witnesses reported.

Such scenes of frustration are becoming more common in rural China as villagers vent their anger against corruption, environmental degradation, pollution and the seizure of land for real estate development.

Every once in a while one reads of riots and unrest in China. Often, the stories note how common these disturbances have become.

But while violence such as this would sound the death knell of some dictatorships, where any defiance is brutally suppressed, what does it mean in China? Since violence seems somewhat normal, is this just more of the same and we shouldn't read too much into it? The peasant may be revolting, sire, but does it matter?

Or is something building up to threaten the communist dictatorship or even Chinese territorial integrity? If it is something, at what point does the unrest become a threat? Can this spread to the major cities? To the military?

What I do know is that it seems to be routine and now I kind of assume this is normal background violence and so no partiuclar threat to the government. Am I mistaken?

And really, I'm not sure whether I'd welcome a Chinese collapse or not. Does bear watching, of course.