China’s Wukan Protests: This Time is Different

As the world prepares to ring in the New Year, we read the headlines and watch the news and the words of W.B. Yeats keep ringing louder in our ear,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;

The following video about China’s Wukan protests is truly a revelation.  Stratfor writes why,

So why is this one any different? There are several things about this protest that have caught our attention.

First, the duration. The villagers have maintained these protests for over several months. Usually these protests die down when local officials are able to buy off a handful of people or strike some sort of negotiation.

Second, the numbers. Although the protesters themselves only amount to a thousand or so citizens, the entire village of approximately 20,000 appears united in its stance against the local government.

And third, the response. The protests lead to the retreat of village officials and the cordoning off of the entire village from any ingoing or outgoing traffic. Although we’ve seen this tactic employed at least once before in Zhejiang province, it is not common and therefore notable.

As we’ve always stated before, many of these protests are local and can be contained locally. Ultimately they pose little threat to the central government. However, we’ve noted several incidents, including the recent protests over a factory in Dalian, where the local government has capitulated to citizen demands…

As China’s economy slows — and we are witnessing a rapidly slowing economy as Europe’s economic turmoil affects China’s exports — protests increase and put increasing pressure on Beijing to manage local uprisings with dwindling economic resources.

As similar protests occur throughout the country, and if they demonstrate the same level of solidarity as in Wukan, Beijing will be forced to respond and will do so through a mixture of force and incentives.

If Beijing mishandles these protests — and the margin for error increases as the protests expand and become more united — the focus could turn to the central government. Further, if protest tactics are able to increasingly force a favorable response for the citizens, they become emboldened. In the end, Beijing will not hesitate to resort to force, especially if the mandate of the Chinese Communist Party comes into question.

The Chinese will ring in their New Year on January 23rd.  The “Year of the Dragon,” which is the only animal of the Chinese zodiac calendar that is not real and seen as a symbol of power, superiority and rule.

(click here if video is not observable)

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7 Responses to China’s Wukan Protests: This Time is Different

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