Letter from China: Big Brother is playing a game he can’t win – Howard W. French

From the International Herald Tribune:

Tiny short-term victories in China’s own national domestic pacification campaign obscure a larger truth. In today’s world, the effort to corral 1.3 billion Chinese and to sharply restrict their is a fool’s game. The best that can be said about it is that it is an enormous waste of energy. The worst is that the increasingly desperate efforts of censors are deeply harmful to China itself, not because they are a setback to any American pipe dream that China will become Westernized through the magic of capitalism, but harmful to China in an absolute sense, in the country’s own terms. By now almost everyone knows the theory that like many places before it, as China grows richer and per capita incomes rise, its citizens will demand a greater say in how they are governed, including first of all the freedom to speak and associate freely.

Nobody knows how or even whether this theory will be borne out, as it already has in countries all around China’s perimeter, like South Korea and Taiwan. What can safely be said is that in China a lively frontier of social and intellectual ferment that foreshadows the direction of the society as a whole is presently occupied by journalists and other kinds of commentators in the new media, and their numbers only stand to grow.



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