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October 26, 2005
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Harmonious society, pollution and cross-Straits relations
Another excellent edition of the Jamestown Foundation's China Brief. As usual, the highlights:
1. Willy Lam, one of the better China pundits, looks at the new five year plan and asks if it is a roadmap towards a "harmonious society". The conclusion bears repeating, but the whole article is a great read:
The change- and risk-averse nature of the Hu leadership is also evident from a series of articles recently run by the party journal Guo Feng (“Spirit of the Country”) on the secrets behind the staying power of several evergreen political parties in the world. A piece written by theorist Xiao Feng on the Cuban Communist Party heaped lavish praise on how Fidel Castro has stood up to American pressure. Xiao asserted that Cubans had remained strong and defiant thanks to their “firm faith [in socialism] and unyielding spirit.” Xiao cited the famous Castro axiom: “We won’t change the direction of our ship even if we were to sink into the deep sea.” Indeed, in a now-famous internal talk late last year, Hu had praised the Castro and Kim regimes in Cuba and North Korea for effectively preserving the “purity” of Communist ideals. Moreover, a series of ideological campaigns launched this past year by Hu, including a Maoist movement to “preserve the advanced nature” of party members, has been modeled upon the Cuban experience. It is highly doubtful, however, whether the Chinese leadership’s ambitious blueprint for socio-economic take-off could ever be attained through wallowing in the mire of old-style CCP norms.
2. China's pollution and its threat to domestic and regional stability. A good summary of the current woeful state of China's environment and its spreading impact. Again read the whole thing but to repeat the conclusion, which I don't fully agree with:
Pollution and environmental degradation, not traditionally considered security concerns, should be accounted for in security assessments of China and the region. Social unrest, the potential for large-scale political mobilization, and democratization are increasingly challenging CCP power and legitimacy. These trends, when linked to political change, could lead to outbreaks of violence, possible large-scale emigration, economic instability, and other concerns.China's environmental regulators and NGOs are growing in power and visibility. But it's not up to the rest of the world to bail China out of its self-made environmental problems. It's up to China's leadership to recognise these problems and the potential constraints they could impose on continued economic growth. As an aside, Reuters reports China is to blacklist and penalise polluting cities, while CSR Asia says there are 400,000 smog-related deaths a year.
Co-incidence or not, Mark Thoma points to Thomas Friedman's piece on China's growing environmental problems and the potential for co-operative policies.
3. More Strait talk: 10 years after the Taiwan missile crisis. Recounts the recent history of cross-strait relations and optimisically states peace and stability can unfold in a pragmatic and step-by-step fashion. After a decade of “cold peace,” it is in the best interest of both sides to engage in constructive dialogue on simple, functional, and non-contentious issues.posted by Simon on 10.26.05 at 11:00 AM in the China brief category.
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