The Need for Unanimity in China Exacts a Hidden Price

In the International Herald Tribune, Howard French writes:

The pre-Olympic crisis in Tibet has revealed China and the West to each other in disturbing new ways. Even before concerns over serious human rights abuses in Tibet could fade, people who followed this story outside of China were given additional reasons to worry, by the vehement Chinese responses to virtually any criticism of their country.

…The great divide in perceptions over the Tibet crisis may indeed have revealed that the Western press is not perfectly accurate or credible, as the Chinese government and its carefully controlled media have wasted no effort in pointing out in recent weeks. To Westerners, this will come as no big surprise.

A good deal more revealing, though, has been a picture that has emerged during the crisis of a Chinese political system that remains devoted to the manufacture and enforcement, when need be, of unanimity on whatever is deemed a vital question.

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