November 24, 2004

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Some contend that China's economic progress will undermine the Communist Party's grip on power. The WaPo has a story titled China's lost generation coddles its young that explains why it won't happen anytime soon:

As a growing economy produces new wealth and a spreading middle class in China, the epochal Cultural Revolution has receded to the distant past in just one generation. The millions of urban youths who were forced to abandon their books and live their teenage years with peasants have grown into indulgent middle-aged parents, eager to spare their children not only the deprivation, but even the knowledge of what happened during those tumultuous years...

Partly out of embarrassment that they played a role in a discredited political experiment, parents from what has been called the Lost Generation have turned their offspring into the Coddled Generation. In the process, whatever lessons were to be learned from the political madness that seized China then have largely been lost on today's students, who have grown up taking stability and economic well-being for granted.

The Lost Generation's eagerness to forget the bitter past and concentrate on China's material achievements helps explain why the ruling Communist Party retains its monopoly on power. Parents are focused on bettering their children's lives and their children are living in a time of loosened controls and economic progress. (my emphasis)

The trauma of Mao's chaos has caused those touched by it to only crave stability. Ironically it is the same Communist Party that now strives to provide it. Combined with rapid gains in living standards the older "Lost" generation are content to enjoy relative normality while the younger "coddled" generation are too busy enjoy their materialism to worry about who runs the country. Like politics everywhere, so long as the CCP stay out of people's way as they make a living most won't care who rules them. It's only when personal livelihood and standard of living is threatened the leadership needs to worry.

posted by Simon on 11.24.04 at 01:33 PM in the


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Simon's China and East Asia Briefing: 30th Nov 2004
Excerpt: The following is a digest of highlights from the past month's Asia by Blog series over at The round-up has four key areas of focus: China, Taiwan & Hong Kong (Politics, Economy & lifestyle, History sport & culture, Information), Korea...
Weblog: Winds of Change.NET
Tracked: November 30, 2004 01:53 PM


Hi, Simon. It's possible that what chinese people consider "enough" at the present time won't be "enough" some day in the future... For example "enough" in January 1989 meant something different than in June 1989.
And the concept of "stay out of people's way" isn't so obvious when we're talking about China and CCP.



posted by: 1972 on 11.24.04 at 10:48 PM [permalink]

The term I hear alot is "Xiao Huangdi" (Little Emperors), and most of them are spoiled enough to truly be such.

posted by: Nathan on 11.25.04 at 09:01 AM [permalink]

Enzo you are right that concepts of "enough" can change, but China is still in the early stages of its economic development. Standards of living have a way to rise yet, so enough is tied crucially to economic wellbeing. People are only going to be interested in politics if it interferes with that or once they are wealthy enough to afford that luxury. For the huge majority of China that day is a long way off.

posted by: Simon on 11.25.04 at 11:47 AM [permalink]

why - if for us democracy is a need - for chinese people should be a "luxury"?



posted by: 1972 on 11.25.04 at 08:16 PM [permalink]

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