A Bellwether of Chinese Revolution
20/09/2012 1 comentario
In Asia, much hinges on China. In China, much has traditionally hinged on change from the south, from Guangdong province, an outward-looking giant of more than 100 million next to Hong Kong. Its $840 billion economy is about as big as that of Netherlands or Indonesia. That makes call for economic, political, administrative and even sports reform in China by Wang Yang, the Communist Party secretary of Guangdong, important, as I in my latest Letter from China column. Will the growing pressure spread to the more conservative north? Has happened several times over the past century, including at end of the Qing dynasty (the 1911 Republican revolution arose in the south), more recently, when Deng Xiaoping toured the south in 1992 to re-start China’s economy, which had stagnated after military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing in 1989. “Wang Yang wants to present himself as a reformer, not just economic but also political reform,” said Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at City University of Hong Kong. He can do that, because Guangdong is farther from the center of power in Beijing. “Guangdong is less monitored,” said Mr. Cheng. In China, “First of all, change comes from coastal areas, because they have higher living standards, more exposure to the West, better infrastructure”. “Beijing and Tianjin are very much under central government’s supervision,” as is Shanghai. But that doesn’t mean Wang will get his way, warned Cheng. For one, Mr. Wang, like most Guangdong leaders, is a pragmatist. So even if Mr. Wang makes it to the Standing Committee of the party’s Politburo in Beijing, his call for wide-ranging reforms last week was intended to win allies for his promotion, Mr. Cheng said, the change is only a possibility, not a probability or a certainty. He pointed to recent, failed attempts at liberalization of media and non-governmental organizations, championed by Wang, then dropped, apparently in face of stiff resistance from conservatives in government. “Based on his past performance, he has a reformist orientation, but he’s not a determined reformer who will challenge top leaders, sacrifice himself,” Mr. Cheng said. “If it’s possible he’ll push for reform. If the resistance is strong he’ll give up a little bit”.