Thousands riot in China

Thomas Lifson
As many as 20,000 farmers recently rioted in Hunan Province, burning buses and raising hell. News has come out via the Boxun News site, linked at Gateway Pundit, which notes that the National People's Congress is underway in Beijing right now.

Riots are a fact of life in China, with tens of thousands of incidents of civil unrest occurring annually. Almost two years ago I commented on the brittle fragility of the political system in China, lacking in any basic legitimacy since the fall of Communism. Despite appearing strong because it brooks no dissent, the ruling autocracy understands that resentment simmers among those who have not moved ahead with the transition to a semi-capitalist economy.

Inland areas in particular have lost out to coastal areas, and many people find themselves worse off. The Hunan riot (which is unusual only because news of it has leaked out) was triggered by a hike in bus fares, which must have hurt the poor, but which also must signal that almost anything could trigger riot, so deep is the resentment.

The fact is that China is a notoriously corrupt country. Guanxi or "connections" count for much when official permission is needed, or when land is transferred (often stolen or barely compensated), or when prices are set for state assets. The outsiders vastly outnumber the insiders, of course, and the visible wealth (often via television with its commercials) doesn't make the poverty any more comfortable.

The world's eyes will be on China next year with the Beijing Olympics. No doubt the repressive arms of the state will be on heightened alert, but resentmenst may also be at a high point. The spectacle may not be limited to the Olympic venues.
As many as 20,000 farmers recently rioted in Hunan Province, burning buses and raising hell. News has come out via the Boxun News site, linked at Gateway Pundit, which notes that the National People's Congress is underway in Beijing right now.

Riots are a fact of life in China, with tens of thousands of incidents of civil unrest occurring annually. Almost two years ago I commented on the brittle fragility of the political system in China, lacking in any basic legitimacy since the fall of Communism. Despite appearing strong because it brooks no dissent, the ruling autocracy understands that resentment simmers among those who have not moved ahead with the transition to a semi-capitalist economy.

Inland areas in particular have lost out to coastal areas, and many people find themselves worse off. The Hunan riot (which is unusual only because news of it has leaked out) was triggered by a hike in bus fares, which must have hurt the poor, but which also must signal that almost anything could trigger riot, so deep is the resentment.

The fact is that China is a notoriously corrupt country. Guanxi or "connections" count for much when official permission is needed, or when land is transferred (often stolen or barely compensated), or when prices are set for state assets. The outsiders vastly outnumber the insiders, of course, and the visible wealth (often via television with its commercials) doesn't make the poverty any more comfortable.

The world's eyes will be on China next year with the Beijing Olympics. No doubt the repressive arms of the state will be on heightened alert, but resentmenst may also be at a high point. The spectacle may not be limited to the Olympic venues.