Thursday, February 04, 2016

Lesson Learned?

The Chinese figure the Soviets made a huge mistake under Gorbachev by combining economic liberalization to get the economy growing and political liberalization that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Do the Chinese really think they have the political liberalization part figured out now?

I found this speculation about China's troubling crackdown on dissent interesting:

There are some well-connected Westerners who believe that this is just a phase. One such figure, the head of a major multinational corporation who has been a close confidant of the Chinese President since he was a minor regional official, insists, in private conversations, that Mr. Xi is simply setting the stage for a long-term Gorbachev-style reform that will lead to something like a liberal-democratic system: “He’s playing a long game.” He’s not the only business figure I’ve heard say this: It’s a dark irony that the most loyal defenders of the Communist Party of China’s leaders these days are the captains of global capitalism.

So Xi has to root out and crush dissenting thought in order to build a system capable of tolerating dissenting thought?


The obvious explanation for Xi's crackdown is that the Chinese still believe Gorbachev was a fool for loosening Soviet communist party control, and that in light of weakening economic performance that was the basis for legitimizing the Chinese Communist Party's control of China (the Golden Chains) the party has to tighten control to make up for the looming loss of legitimacy under the old bargain.

But no, Xi has a deep plan to crush dissent and then allow it.

The obvious explanation for the Western corporate leaders' opinion that Xi has a deep plan to liberalize--in the long run--is that a pure Chinese crackdown to maintain party control--forever--will harm Chinese efforts to forge trade tides with Western countries (like Canada in this case) that will increase their corporate profits. So they must profess to believe this two-stage strategy of political liberalization to keep notions of human rights from getting in the way of trade deals.

People are funny.