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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

China/Japan politics: Worse to come

"This past weekend, the Chinese Communist government organized a protest demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Under the watchful eyes of Chinese security agents and police, the young protestors were encouraged to throw stones at the embassy in protest over the latest Japanese history textbook continuing to omit mention of Japanese atrocities in China during World War II."

"As anti-Japanese protests in China have spread and increased in intensity over the past week or so, the implications for bilateral relations have become more serious. What at first could be dismissed as a periodic flare-up of animosity, in essence a perennial occupational hazard for diplomatic and commercial ties between the two countries, has expanded into an issue with the potential to poison relations more substantively, and thus to cloud North Asian stability, for a long time to come—at least well into 2006."

"For China, the big question is a domestic one—that is, whether the government has unwittingly unleashed a force that it cannot control. Could protests against Japan mutate into protests against the Chinese government of a sufficient scale and intensity to threaten the ruling Chinese Communist Party? Moreover, if the Chinese government acts to curb anti-Japanese activity for fear of protests getting out of hand, it may appear soft on the "enemy" and stir up further resentment in the process. More broadly, the more Chinese people become used to protesting over grievances of any kind, the greater the risk there is to party control."

"It should be noted, however, that the economic reforms of the past few years have made protests—over corruption, lay-offs and the like—quite common in China and have not prevented the party from maintaining broad stability. It would be highly premature to regard the latest protests as a precursor to another incident of similar the magnitude to the 1989 pro-democracy protests. At present, all that can said is that either tolerating or, as some suspect, pandering to nationalistic sentiment has inherent dangers for the Chinese government, though not necessarily ones that will immediately undermine political stability."


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