So what do we think of China?

18 years ago this day the scenes at Tinamenn Square played out. China has a horrible envirnmental record. China is helping, indirectly, funding the genocied in Darfur. But China is also much more “acceptable” to many people in the world community, primarily due to their growth and their willingness to do businees. Is China improving it’s ways or are it’s transgressions being overlooked so people can make a buck? Of course it is more complicated than all that, but China has come a long way to gaining acceptance, in a short amount of time. Why and is it deserved?

Part of it is they are extremely good diplomats. They have had a long time to practice in. They are less immediately threatening than many other nations. And they hav made some progress in recent decades; just not nearly enough.

I believe that eventually their giovernment will hit a critical limit where it won’t be able to keep control anymore. Too many people with too many voices, too many poeple getting wealthier but not fast enoug for their tastes. History tends to show that those states most likely to experience revolutions or major social changes are those with a large, disaffected lower class and/or which have slow rising prosperity and education combined with relatively limited prospects for social advancement.

Chian probably fits the latter. More over, it has two odd problems. The United States/Canada/Europe et all are becoming more and more familiar to the average Chinese due to better communications infrastructure the elites can’t control (as they used to), and these nations are bringing huge changes to the way Chinese see the world and their place in it.

The mainstream government, media, and think tanks in the western world generally judge third-world countries by economic policies, not human rights records. China has certainly taken vast steps forward, in terms of economic freedom and openness to outside investment. China’s human rights record lags far behind, with execution and torture still everyday occurrences. Workers’ movements are restricted, and unionization remains almost unheard of. It’s useless to pretend that the major western countries care deeply about any of these issues as long as companies can make a profit by manufacturing shoes and underwear there.

Personally, I still haven’t forgiven them for the whole Tibet/East Turkestan debacle. They’re still practicing genocide there. That government is oppressive and tyrannical, and the whole economic-progress-regardless-off-enviornmental-costs thing grinds my nerves too. I mean, they’re the world leader in human rights abuses.

I think smiling bandit is right- China will have a major revolution in the next couple decades. I’m not so confident, however, that it will be successful, based on the already-strong Chinese military and the way China keeps upping military spending.

And sexual/reproductive frustration makes widespread unrest even more likely.

So what do people think of the fact that China will get to host the 2008 Olympics?

Senator Dodd thinks we should threaten a boycott, to get the Chinese to stop supporting the genocide in Darfur.

I think it means that they’re going to retract their claws until the games are over. A lot of their apparent openness is just to keep the games coming.

A travesty for a suppposed celebration of human rights.

My general opinion (if you’ll pardon a vast generalization in GD) is that the West has agreed to look the other way when China assaults its own people, so long as China plays nice with everyone else. This devil’s bargain is why stuff like antifreeze in pharmaceuticals is such a big deal, one that will lead shortly to a corrupt official’s execution. Of course, the notion that a country that doesn’t respect its own citizens’ fundamental human rights will respect those of other countries’ citizens is ultimately foolish; we’ll have to see how the disconnect plays out.

I disagree with many on this thread. Whilst China’s record on human rights is appalling, I do believe that it is improving, and I think that the government in China is pretty much trying to transition into a western style democracy, just slowly and retaining social stability while it does it.

Compare China now to 20 years ago… there really is no comparison for your average citizen (at least near the large cities).

Crytpoderk has a point. Remember that just a few years ago China was a totalitarian dictatorship based on the absolute authority of one man, Mao. The Cultural Revolution. Near total isolation from the outside world. Absolute and total control over every aspect of life. Decisions made ideologically, not pragmatically. Absolutely no media except state propaganda.

China may look like a pretty crappy place today, but people who talk about China’s reforms are grading on a curve. If you think China’s oppression of political dissidents is appalling nowadays, simply compare it to how it was in the past. Thing is, during the 60s and 70s we didn’t hear a thing about China’s human rights record, because travel and communication to and from China was pretty much impossible.

The difference between China nowadays and China then is that today’s ruling oligarchy sees the success of first-world countries and has decided to emulate it. An average middle class Frenchman in many ways has a better life than a ruling oligarch in a totalitarian society. Sure, the ability to have your social inferiors jailed or executed on a whim might seem appealing, but the downside is that your social superiors have the same power over you, and only one man in the entire country has no superior. And that dictator isn’t happy either, he’s got to constantly watch his back, dictators that spend their time lazing around with concubines and enjoying the finer things in life tend to end up on a spike. So, the Chinese oligarchs collectively decided they’d rather be relatively smaller fish in a bigger pond.

Having visited there and talked with many Chinese citizens, I agree. Over the past 10-20 years, communism has almost been completely replaced with capitalism, and people are happy with the rocketing increase in opportunity and standards of living there. Shit still happens there, and the government still tightly controls and manages the country at a high level, but it is in no way your parent’s China anymore. Believe me, they are completely aware of their own problems, embarrassedly so, but fortunately seem to me to have an eye to the future for improving China and the standard of living of the people without revolution or upheaval. They know this takes time, and the abuses and problems and conservative powers won’t disappear overnight.

They are an interesting and fascinating test case of a formerly totalitarian communist government deliberately choosing to reform to capitalism and a citizen-focused economy. They are in an interesting transitional state and will continue to transtition on their own terms, regardless of any sanctions, boycotts, or referendums the rest of the world waves at them.

For ultimate good or bad, who can tell?

The Olympics is not supposed to be a celebration of human rights.

“Human rights” was incorrect, but I think the point stands that hosting the Olympics in Beijing goes against everything that the Olympics claim to be about, as written on their official website.

From the pdf of the Olympic Charter:

It’s a reasonable nitpick on your part, though.

China has been anti capitalism for many years. The people have been particularly propagandized about the evils of American capitalism. There must be a lot of communist believers. When they see the rich cleaning up and the pollution going wild will they react. I wonder. I suspect they may experience unrest when they see the changes being made.

What do I think of China? I think that by 2047 we will be their subjects and wholly controlled by Beijing.

And that is why they’re transitioning slowly and carefully, rather than rushing in with glasnost now and ending up with Putin’s Russia in twenty years time…

And by the way, it was Friedman who put (very convincingly) that economic freedom is a necessary requirement before political freedom. As is so often the case, he’s being proven right now.

See, this I don’t get. I’m not afraid of Chinese dominance at all. I think by the time China gets to the point where it can be the equal of the US and EU economically that we’ll all have mellowed to the point that we realize there 's no need to fight. It’s just like Gargoyle said, I guess, they don’t want revolution or upheval to get rid of the current system. And this ought to go to show you what consumer culture can for a government. You can get away with murder (literally) as long as you keep the average man happy with his gadgets.

I simply can’t see China becoming aggressive. I don’t know why, but China hasn’t been showing many signs aside from posturing with Taiwan.

The thing about China is that it is not as economically powerful as many people believe. Most, if not almost all, of their intellectual property is flat out stolen. They have several major “westernized” economic centers that do fairly well, but a heck of a lot of their economic power is paper thin: lying about how well things are doing is routine, businesses are not allowed to fail in public sight even when they are hemorrhaging money: a heck of a lot is just for show. In the last ten years, the basic standard of living for most Chinese people has plummeted, not improved. I would say that about 200 million Chinese live in a somewhat modern society. Most of the rest, however, are impoverished serfs, and not particularly happy serfs.