Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Peasants Really are Increasingly Revolting

I've noted unrest in China and wondered if this was significant or just part of the normal fabric of Chinese society.

Strategypage writes that the unrest is rising and that the communist party leadership is worried:

The number of major demonstrations or riots per million people per week, is moving from one to two. Many of these outbursts are the result of corruption among local officials, including the police. This misbehavior also makes it increasingly difficult to collect taxes. Forcing the issue with corrupt provincial officials risks resistance, which could escalate into rebellion. The problem is particularly acute in western and central China, where half the population lives. This is the poorest half, misruled by the most corrupt officials. One reason for upgrading the military is to make it possible to attack rebellious factions while using a minimum number of troops. China has a long history of troops changing sides when ordered to attack their own people. Didn't happen all that often, but the Internet and all those cell phones have changed things. People are more connected to each other. This information access has made Chinese people more aware of the rest of the world, how it operates, and how China ranks.

If we had 300 major riots or demonstrations every week targeting our national government, I think we'd be nervous about our stability.

Of course, one danger is that the Chinese will try to divert attention with a nice war against Taiwan that whips up xenophobic nationalism to replace waning socialist solidarity. Not that this strategy couldn't backfire if the invasion fails, but when the peasants are revolting and you aren't sure if the PLA will shoot at the people, sending the military to take Taiwan may seem the safer bet.