One wonders if the Chinese regime every really thought that it would get away with the Olympic Games being some sort of glorification of China under its rule. No doubt others awarding these games thought that they could motivate China towards altering its rule towards something more obviously Western, and open and joining the prosperous world. However, it misunderstands the Chinese regime.
China had already started on a path of economic expansion in order to bring some economic benefit to its huge population, but in April to June 1989 the whole regime received a massive jolt through the peaceful demonstration of students, workers, intellectuals, and civil servants and over a million people occupied Tiananmen Square and existed in more than three-hundred Chinese cities. It was on June 3rd and the morning of June 4th that the Chinese authorities sent in troops and tanks to end the demonstrations killing hundreds or thousands and arresting thousands.
Since then the regime has gone for broke in terms of economic liberalisation. It has created much in the way of non-political space, and has created much in the way of instrumentalist political space - that is the ability to talk, criticise and organise on the basis of business. It is like a pay off to a middle class, and the Communist Party has dropped all real pretension to any socialism. Socialism with Chinese features is rather a hackneyed emptied-out phrase that is meaningless.
Business can thrive but unions cannot; there are now mass movements of people in a kind of bondage industrial system. In order for business to thrive, Communist Party officials need the palms greasing, and so it is a system corrupt through and through. We take much for granted in the European West about social welfare state support, yet this has no equivalence even in Communist (!) China, where so much relies on paying fees and where poverty and desolation is crippling.
The result, of course, is all the problems that arise with economic growth, which amount to inequality. There is environmental damage, poverty, unemployment, inflation is increasing, he property building market has a fantasy element to it, and allied to this is the increasing divide with rural areas and their poverty, and this includes a different treatment handed out to minority ethnic regions.
The Chinese regime could simply turn on a sixpence. They know it too, because dynasties rise and dynasties fall. Culturally, this Chinese regime is emptying out of all purpose behind its rule. What is the point of a Communist Party rule that has no Communism? What does it mean when so many Chinese people now ignore the organisation of politics (except to grease palms), and this ignorance is a means by which the regime thinks it can stay in power? Of course they ignore political organisation, but they have real political complaints and the system cannot simply work through instrumental adjustments when people start wanting to hold others to account.
The protest nearly twenty years ago was from below, and this is how Chinese regimes can change, but they can also collapse from within. When the regime from within realises the purposeless of it all, and that it is rotten, it then starts to cave in. Of course this is dangerous, as factions defeat other factions and attempt to hold on to power, but rot is rot.
Thus we come to Tibet. Tibet has always been treated badly by the Chinese, ever since it fought its way in. It has treated Tibet like the Soviet Union treated its nationalities - by messing up the population in the area through ethnic mixing. Except the Chinese have done this systematically. A cultural treasure house has been overwhelmed by systematic repression of its religious treasures and by importing an outside population. What we see now is an explosion from below, as the pressure rises with the Olympic Games approaching.
Of course no one should be rosy-eyed about the former Tibetan regime. It lived in its own feudal isolation, cut off from the world, and did not see what was happening around it. It was a backward regime: but it was up to the Tibetans to change the regime themselves, not for the Chinese to dominate and perform a systematic cultural genocide as a solution to an ethnic problem of its won Empire.
We are given the impression that in response to the present uprising the main Chinese population are reacting against the ethnic Tibetans. We see some students in the West parading pro-Chinese flags and feeling. Some of this might be genuine, but at the time of the Tiananmen Square uprising, the newly vocal Chinese questioned its policies in Tibet. At present too, the factory prison system in China leaves hundreds of thousands of people in fear and resentment about lost relatives in the system. There is some Chinese nationalism, of course, and one presumes some of the apparatchiks fronting CCTV for international consumption actually believe what they are presenting (I watched part of a Dialogue on Tibet, that tiptoed and went historical about Tibet): but every Chinese person knows the old fashioned and essentially internal-political nonsense handed down around the language of the "Dalai Clique". The talk is bankrupt.
The Chinese Internet is censored, Rupert Murdoch's Star satellite system is just money making with censored news, and Internet Service providers are participating in the State's censorship - but the news does get through, and the Chinese people have their own jungle telegraph and their own jokes. The business system China has developed is a leaky one. Against this the Dalai Lama stands as a moral beacon, ever brighter.
Coming up to the Olympic Games the Chinese regime will repress where it can and put a public show on as it wants; it will try to generate nationalism and heighten pride; and the social, economic and political pressures will intensify. After the Games is when the real agony will start, because the regime will want to get its own back on its failure to have a trouble free display of itself. However, the nastier and more pointless it gets, afterwards, the more likely will the lid blow off the boiling kettle, and the more likely also insiders of the regime will ask themselves how it is that their country simply cannot be treated like any other, and will conclude that the regime is rotten. Combine this with an increasingly fed up middle class, as economic troubles descend, and then we might conclude that the regime, in its present form, is to be doomed.
Meanwhile, that flag:
There are three sides with a yellow border, being the Buddha's gold-like teachings, and one side is open to other views; the snow mountain in the centre is the land surrounded by Snow Mountains with the sun above representing freedom, happiness and prosperity; the six red rays are the six tribes of Tibet: the Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra; the blue rays are the sky and as well as suggesting spiritual and secular rule the red and blue together mean protection by each interacting, with the snow-lions being that power and they raise up the three coloured jewel signifying the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The circular jewel that reminds us of yin and yang represents the 10 divine virtuous actions and the 16 human moral rules, that is self-discipline and ethics.
Julie Withers: Reflections from the North West (2nd – 4th Sept 2015) - I’m not sure what I expected but nothing could have prepared me for the Shared Conversations held in Cheshire between 2nd – 4th September. The conversatio...