Why Occupy Wall Street Would Have Never Happened in China

As the Occupy Wall Street protests gain momentum, the Global Times spoke with Los Angeles-based journalist Nomi Prins and Peking University professor Wang Yizhou about the movement’s goals, its likely impact and the importance of economic democracy.  Wang presented the Chinese perspective:

Things would be very different if the protests took place in China. The government here would take powerful measures and the financial giants would dare not to refuse change. But the US government is relatively weak.

The Obama administration may call on Congress to pass bills to increase taxes on the rich. But frankly that’s a measure aimed at all wealthy people and corporate giants, rather than especially designed for Wall Street.

Obama may personally have sympathy toward those protesting voices. But as the US president, his job is to maintain existing economic stability. He can urge financial giants to cut salaries and bonuses, but I really don’t see deep changes in the entire policy.

The ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement naturally makes the Chinese think about future development and reform in their own financial sector. Some want to strictly constrain the growth of the financial sector.

But we can’t return to the planned economy. Things like subprime mortgages and financial derivatives are indispensable in a complicated modern economy. The lesson we need to draw is to make the correct use of them.

The People’s Daily ran two editorials on Monday, one from China Economic Net which explained the origins behind the movement, and another from the Jiefang Daily which described the spread of Wall Street outrage:

There has been a wide appeal from ordinary U.S. people to change the current situation, and even President Barack Obama was forced to admit that the life of U.S. people is worse than it was four years ago.

Pursuing a change and reform has turned into a major demand from the public of the United States. Some demonstrators directly express that they oppose the war, oppose cutting down the social welfares and ask for jobs instead of cutting down employment. They want to press the U.S. government and Congress to change the current situation.

Obviously, it is just the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The protestors are making preparations for passing the winter and also plan to settle down in the Liberty Square of New York. On the one hand, the demonstration is just a voluntary social movement and will hardly evolve into a political party movement that will dominate the political field of the United States.

On the other hand, the demonstration has changed the political ecology of the United States and both the Democratic Party and Republican Party are making use of it to make themselves look good and censure their opponents. Just like the anti-Vietnam War demonstration that occurred half a century ago, the Occupy Wall Street movement will heavily and significantly impact the presidential election of 2012 and the future foreign policy trends of the United States without doubt.

In China, some activists have expressed their “firm support” for the movement both online and in two cities in Henan province.  From Asia Times Online:

On October 1 – China’s National Day – blogger Sima Pingbang uploaded a lengthy article entitled “Support American People’s Great Wall Street Revolution”. It said events in the US herald a global revolution that will bury capitalism.

Apparently incited by Sima’s article, several hundred people in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of Henan, gathered in front of the city’s Working People’s Cultural Palace on October 6 to show their support for the Wall Street protests, Utopia said in a report. Quoting participants, the report said what happened in the US was proof that only socialism can save the world as it had saved China. “Chairman Mao passed away, but the internationalism he taught us is still with us,” Utopia concluded.

Then on October 8, an unknown number of people in Henan’s Luoyang gathered at the city’s Zhouwangcheng Square. Participants put up a big picture of Mao and displayed a huge banner with the slogan “To Staunchly Support American People’s Great ‘Wall Street’ Revolution!” The wording of the slogan, obviously copied from the title of Sima’s article, somehow reminds people of Mao’s “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”.

See also previous CDT coverage of a China Daily USA editorial critical of the U.S. media’s coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests.