Saturday, March 24, 2007
Fight by Yang and Wu Sign of a Human Rights Thaw in China?
Reading the history of Communist China one is struck by the brutal authoritarianism of Mao and his political descendants. Around the time of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s this harshness began to modify as a gradual reintroduction of private ownership and an embryonic market economy was introduced by this geriatric (relative) liberal. This continued for a decade and laid the foundations of China's current formidable economic might. I had always assumed that introducing free enterprise into an economic dictatorship would decentralize power and strengthen human rights. Not so.
When the dictatorships collapsed in Eastern Europe and the USSR I thought the framework of the Chinese state would not be long in crashing down as well. But it didn't. And in 1989 the old guard showed how strong they were by instigating the Tiananmen Square massacare. Since then we've seen the economy grow apace but the government still censors Google and bloggers and anyone who wants to act like a genuine democrat.
One can read of many local uprisings in China against corruption and unpopular government decisions but nothing to suggest the iron hand is being finally slackened. Yet we see that a couple can apparently stand up against government development plans without being harrassed, imprisoned or even murdered. Any or all of those things would have surely happened even ten years ago, so I really do think that the fight being waged by Yang and Wu is something to applaud and view as a hopeful sign that in terms of human rights, China may finally be coming in from the cold.
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