December 16, 2009
Tightened domestic security this year was understandable, in the light of the Uighur unrest in Xinjiang province, the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. However, the signs are that security is being permanently tightened and press and internet freedom restricted.
The CCP (Communist party) has been very effective in retaining wide popular support, due principally to a successful economic development and national pride in Chinese successes. Dissidents have been harshly and efficiently controlled.
The legitimacy of the CCP depends upon economic growth and societal stability. The former is under pressure from the adverse global economic situation and through the need for sustainable development. The latter is threatened by the rising number of “mass incidents” (riots, demonstrations, protests) – 120 000 in 2008 and 58 000 in the first quarter of 2009.
The official explanation is that increased threats of separatism, infiltration and subversion require a stronger security network. Needless to say, increased repression carries its own risks.
This increase in mass incidents is disturbing: there are many causes, including environmental degradation, lack of food safety and poor building construction. But at the root of many is corruption, which may be the biggest challenge for the current leadership, particularly as corruption is widely practised by CCP officials, often political supporters of the leadership.
The concept of “harmonious society” may be a primary aim, but it is still a long way from achievement. A prerequisite is a society that feels secure.Author : Stanley Crossick